Canadian Peter Polansky has upset one of the top-ranked tennis players in the world.
The 22-year-old native of Thornhill, Ont., beat Austrian Jurgen Melzer in the first round of the Rogers Cup on Monday night, grinding his way to a 7-6, 6-4 win front of an appreciative centre-court crowd at Rexall Centre.
Melzer entered the Canadian tournament ranked 15th in the world, having appeared in the French Open semifinal, and having earned more than US$1 million in prize money so far this year. Polansky is ranked No. 207, with $27,052 in the bank from the ATP World Tour.
It is the first time a Canadian man has beaten a top-15 player at his home tournament in seven years, since Simon Larose upset Gustavo Kuerten. Larose was ranked No. 314 in the world at the time.
Polansky outlasted Melzer in a game that lasted one hour 47 minutes. The first set lasted 62 minutes, with Polansky holding on to win the tiebreaker.
Polansky will advance to face Romanian Victor Hanescu, who won his first game against Thornhill’s Milos Raonic. The 19-year-old, one of four Canadian players given wild-card entries into the ATP Masters 1000 series tournament, fell 6-4, 6-4 to Hanescu earlier on Monday.
Polansky’s win was the highlight of a rainy day in Toronto, where weather forced a long delay on the courts at York University. The top eight seeds were granted byes into the second round of the US$2.43-million tournament, leaving the early draws lacking for recognizable talent.
Roger Federer held a question-and-answer session with reporters, and is scheduled to play for the first time since Wimbledon on Tuesday. The 29-year-old is ranked No. 3 in the world, after a year that has been marked with injury and illness following a win at the Australian Open in January.
Polansky has been far less visible, known best for an incident which he would likely rather forget.
Polansky suffered well-publicized injuries during a trip to Mexico four years ago, when he was an alternate for Canada’s Davis Cup team. He was sleepwalking in his hotel room — having seen a knife-wielding man in his dreams — when he kicked out the window of his hotel room and fell three storeys to the courtyard below.
“When it happened, people were doubting if he would play again, or even walk again,” Polansky’s coach, Dean Coburn told The New York Times last year. “It was a serious accident, life-threatening. Where he’s come, it’s unbelievable.”
In other early matches Monday, Sergiy Stakhovsky of Ukraine defeated Richard Gasquet of France 7-5, 6-1, and Juan Ignacio Chela of Argentina beat Alejandro Falla of Colombia 6-1, 6-3. Tommy Robredo of Spain topped Jarkko Nieminen of Finland 6-1, 6-4; Kevin Anderson of South Africa downed Leonardo Mayer of Argentina 7-6 (2), 6-4, and Julian Benneteau of France beat Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan 6-4, 6-4.
Raonic and Vancouver’s Vasek Pospisil were set to face off against a pair of giants at centre court Monday night. Rafael Nadal, the No. 1-ranked player in the world, has teamed up with second-ranked Novak Djokovic, and was scheduled to play the home-grown tandem.