Friendship put aside

Canada's Frank Dancevic returns serve to countryman Peter Polansky during his first-round win at...

Canada's Frank Dancevic returns serve to countryman Peter Polansky during his first-round win at the Rogers Cup. Dancevic, who won 7-6 (3), 6-3, trailed 3-1 in a first-set tiebreaker. (Toronto Sun/Alex Urosevic)

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:48 AM ET

Frank Dancevic's heart was with his opponent yesterday.

But in the opening round of the $2.45-million US Rogers Cup at the Rexall Centre, Dancevic had his mind squarely on knocking off fellow Canadian Peter Polansky.

After running into a spot of trouble in a first-set tiebreaker, Dancevic recovered and beat Polansky 7-6 (3), 6-3, putting a hiccup in the latter's feel-good story that has been well-documented in recent weeks.

SLEEP-WALKING

During a sleep-walking incident in Mexico City in April, Polansky, 18, fell from a third-floor hotel room. As late as a month ago Polansky did not know whether he would be able to recover from his injuries, which included 450 stitches in his legs, in time to compete in Toronto.

"It was a little bit difficult playing Petey, you know, just because of everything that happened and his recovery," said Dancevic, a 21-year-old native of Niagara Falls. "To come back and (see him) play like that, I was amazed. I know him really well. He is a good buddy of mine."

Polansky, of Thornhill, was participating in his second tournament since his freak accident. Ahead 3-1 in the tiebreaker, Polansky was unable to return a couple of Dancevic serves and then committed some errors. Dancevic, ranked No. 97 in the world and the first Canadian in five years to crack the top 100, rattled off the next six points to take the set. Dancevic went up 5-2 in the second set before closing out Polansky.

The crowd at Stadium Court for the 11 a.m. match was behind both players, but there were a few more cheers for Polansky. He had 11 family members and friends in the stands. That Polansky even was able to play -- he spent six weeks in a wheelchair before he could properly begin rehabilitation -- was enough for the teen.

"I was okay with just being out there and being in front of everyone," said Polansky, his legs marked by numerous scars. "Stepping out on court and having my first match with someone I know made it a lot easier. It was a great experience."

Polansky's determination to get back on the court impressed another Canadian, Daniel Nestor.

"It's such an inspirational story," Nestor said. "It's an unfortunate thing that happened to him and he was able to shake it off not only physically but mentally."

Of the four Canadians entered in the tournament, Dancevic is the lone Canuck who will play in the second round. Philip Bester of North Vancouver, B.C., lost 6-4, 6-1 to No. 5 James Blake of the U.S. last night. Earlier, Nestor, of Toronto, lost 6-4, 7-5 to Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic.


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