Nestor feeling cheerier

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:26 AM ET

The sun-splashed crowds at the Rogers Cup decided to back Canadian Daniel Nestor yesterday, not stab him in the back.

Just 48 hours after being mocked by a group of hecklers during an opening-round singles loss to Tomas Berdych, Nestor was back out on the court at the Rexall Centre and received, in his opinion, a much more appropriate reception.

First came the cheers as the doubles specialist teamed with partner Mark Knowles for a 6-3, 7-6 (2) victory over Gaston Gaudio and Sebastien Prieto to reach the quarter finals.

Several hours later, applause filled the Stadium Court as Nestor received the Tennis Canada Excellence Award as the 2005 Male Player of the Year.

"It was better," Nestor said, still slightly irked by the barbs tossed his way Monday. "There were no loudmouths, no punks."

Nestor pulled no punches after a group of pro-Croatian fans chided him during the Berdych (who is a Czech) smatch three days ago.

"Hey Daniel, your mom's here," one lout yelled. "Time to go home."

At the time, Nestor said he found it "disturbing" to be chided in such a manner on his home court.

Nestor's response to the taunts sparked considerable debate in the media, although he claims he wasn't painting the entire crowd with the same brush.

"It wasn't everyone, it was only the one group," Nestor said. "It was sad to see.

"But the support was out there (yesterday), and it was great."

The Nestor bandwagon will almost certainly continue to balloon should he and Knowles reach the final on Sunday.

In order to do that, however, they'll have to come out of the gate much better than they did against the Gaudio-Prieto tandem.

"We kind of struggle at the beginning of tournaments, almost as if we're trying to give things away," Nestor said. "It has kind of been our trademark the past 18 months."

Next up for the Nestor-Knowles combo is a meeting with Simon Aspelin and Todd Perry tomorrow, a match that has the potential to be an epic.

When the two teams locked horns last month at Wimbledon, it took six hours before Nestor and Knowles finally came out with the victory.

"That definitely was the longest match of my career, and I'm sure they haven't forgotten," Nestor said. "I'm sure they'll be fired up."


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