At home on hardcourt

MIKE GANTER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 1:32 PM ET

Novak Djokovic is the returning Rogers Cup champion, but you would hardly know it from his first appearance here yesterday.

On the eve of the first matches in the main singles draw, Djokovic seemed anything but interested in talking up his chances for a repeat.

He also seemed somewhat insulted when it was suggested his second-round exit from Wimbledon a few weeks back may have widened the gap between himself and the top two players in the world, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, who also are here this week.

"It was a bad tournament for me," Djokovic said. "Just nothing went the right way. I'm just turning another page and looking forward to the hardcourt season.

"I have just tried to be positive, not think about it too much. Just a bad day. You know, it was a lot of tournaments. (But) now I'm fresh, I'm ready and hopefully I can do well."

A straight-sets loss to Marat Safin, a wild-card entry this week in Toronto as well and on the same side of the draw as the No. 3 seeded Djokovic, is what the defending champ is trying to turn the page on.

Djokovic insists there is no hangover from that Wimbledon letdown.

"I lost, okay, I lost the match in Wimbledon, which was a bit unexpected to lose in the second round," Djokovic said. "You know, from my position, I am not really down. I am not depressed, whatever. I am not thinking negatively. I am just looking forward to the hardcourt."

Interestingly, Djokovic's no-sense-looking-back philosphy was almost exactly the same tack that Federer took a few hours earlier in his first sit-down with the local media.

The world No. 1, who came out on the wrong end of that one-for-the-ages final with Rafael Nadal two weeks ago at Wimbledon, could not move on quick enough from any question regarding the final that all the tennis world continues to talk about.

Federer pounded home the point that with the ATP schedule back on the hardcourt after the clay in France and the grass in England, things are much more to his liking.

"It is definitely nice to play on hardcourt (rather) than on clay or grass," he said.

NO BAD BOUNCE

"We don't have the bad bounce. We have the normal bounce again, and that's good to see. I am very excited to be playing on hardcourts again."

Nadal, the only one presumably interested in re-living his 2008 Wimbledon experience or his win on the clay in Paris, chose to beg off his media obligations yesterday and now will speak today instead.

If there is a crisis of confidence for Djokovic going on right now, he can always look back to last year's Rogers Cup in Montreal when he took out Federer, Nadal and Andy Roddick in the final three matches to earn the tournament win.

"This was one of the touranments that is a turning point in my career," Djokovic said. "I can say this was a tournament where I won against the best three players in the world in the final stages of the tournament.

"So it obviously gave me a lot of motivation to do even better in the future and gave me a boost up."

Whether that boost will prevail over the letdown at Wimbledon a few weeks back will be answered this week.


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