Djokovic downs Polansky, Del Potro withdraws from Rogers Cup with injury


TORONTO — Four-time champion Novak Djokovic advanced to the third round of the Rogers Cup on Wednesday, defeating Canadian wild card Peter Polansky 6-3, 6-4 in between rain delays that wreaked havoc on Day 3 of the Masters 1000 event.

Heavy morning rain pushed back the opening matches at the York University campus in the north end of the city by about an hour, holding off the start of an exciting day that featured six Canadian players, including Montreal’s Felix Auger-Aliassime on his 18th birthday.

The rain, which started up again with a fury after Djokovic’s one-hour, 25-minute win, also caused a venue switch from centre court to the grand stand for Canadian Denis Shapovalov’s late afternoon match against 14th-seed Fabio Fognini.

The move prompted a sarcastic tweet from the 19-year-old from Richmond Hill, Ont., that was quickly deleted after receiving a dozen retweets.

“Got moved to grand stand #welldone #homeevent,” Shapovalov wrote, adding the clapping hands emoji.

At No. 26, Shapovalov is the highest ranked Canadian in the men’s draw. He rose to prominence last year with a stellar run at the Rogers Cup in Montreal that ended with a semifinal loss to eventual champion Alex Zverev.

The scheduled afternoon start was a quick turnaround for Shapovalov, who downed France’s Jeremy Chardy in straight sets in the first round Tuesday evening in front of a packed and supportive crowd at centre court that included Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid and former Ottawa Senators star Jason Spezza.

Milos Raonic of Thornhill, Ont., was scheduled to follow Djokovic’s win on centre court but that match was also delayed. Top seed Rafael Nadal of Spain had the prime court to open the evening session followed by Auger-Aliassime.

Djokovic, coming off his fourth Wimbledon title last month, fired seven aces and never faced a break point to oust Polansky from his hometown tournament.

It was only the second time the two veteran players had met and the first in nine years. Djokovic downed Polansky in their only other meeting — also at a Rogers Cup — in 2009.

Polansky, a 30-year-old from nearby Thornhill, Ont., reached a career-high No. 110 in June but entered the week at No. 121.

“I thought it went really well out there,” said Polansky, who’s never made it past the second round of a Rogers Cup. “6-3, 6-4, (it was) probably a little closer than the scoreline said.

“I’ll take it as a good experience and look forward to the next event.”

A former World No. 1, Djokovic is seeded ninth at the Toronto tournament. He last won the Rogers Cup in 2016.

Earlier Wednesday, tournament officials announced Argentine tennis star Juan Martin del Potro had withdrawn from the tournament with a left wrist injury.

“Sorry to my fans in Toronto, but I have to pull out of the tournament since my left wrist needs some days of rest,” Del Potro said in a tweet.

Del Potro, who had a bye in the first round, was set to play Robin Haase of the Netherlands on Wednesday. Haase instead faced Russian veteran Mikhail Youzhny, who pulled out of his second-round qualifying match on Sunday.

Toronto’s Daniel Nestor — the oldest player at the tournament at 45 — and Vancouver’s Vasek Pospisil were scheduled to play their first-round doubles match in the late afternoon.

Nestor is retiring following the Davis Cup in September. He will have played in 30 Rogers Cups since his first as a 16-year-old wild card in 1989.

Melissa Couto, The Canadian Press