Frank Dancevic knows how to play to the home crowd.
A year after stunning the tennis aficionados in Montreal when he became the first Canadian to reach Canada's lone stop on the ATP tour since 1989, the pony-tailed Niagara Falls native was at it again last night at the Rexall Centre at York University.
Facing the No. 24-ranked Mario Ancic of Croatia, Dancevic entertained an appreciative gathering on the stadium's centre court with an easier-than-it-looked 6-3, 6-4 win.
Dancevic though has almost no time to celebrate the upset as he'll be right back on the same court this evening at 7:30 when he takes on the tournament defending champ and world No. 3 Novak Djokovic of Serbia.
"It brought back a couple of memories of Montreal," Dancevic said afterward.
With chants of "Frank the Tank" -- Dancevic admitted that one had him chuckling a little -- the pro-Canadian crowd was "like a warm hug", according to Canada's top ranked singles player in the world at No. 82 and helped propel him to the win.
If the prospect of playing the No. 24-ranked player in the world wasn't daunting enough coming out of the gate, Dancevic wasn't even sure how his back, which he injured in Australia, would react to the return to the hardcourt surface after playing on the more forgiving grass at Wimbledon.
"I wasn't quite sure exactly how I was going to be moving and feeling the ball out there," he said. "I was a little bit nervous before the match not knowing exactly where my game was. It seemed like from the first ball when I started playing I felt the ball right away and I felt pretty confident out there."
Dancevic was in control from the beginning of this one.
He broke Ancic's serve in the third game and then held serve throughout that set for a 6-3 win.
The second set saw Ancic break back against Dancevic for a quick 2-0 lead. But before the man they call "Baby Goran" (after his tutelage under the former Croatian tennis great Goran Ivanisevic) could extend the lead, Dancevic broke right back.
With the set tied at four, Dancevic again broke Ancic's serve and then won the match on his own serve to the delight of the Rexall Centre crowd.
Dancevic said the key for him was being aggressive and he was that and more particularly when Ancic was on his second serve where the Canadian won 17 of 24 possible points for a 71% success rate.
"I just took chances on the second serves," he said. "I knew that putting the ball back in the middle of the court wasn't going to do much because he was just going to run me to the other side. So basically when I had my chances on his second serves I just went for it. I was feeling the ball today. I was seeing it ball pretty good. I happened to hit some good returns at the right times and that's what got me ahead."
Dancevic knows he has got another monster waiting in the wings tonight in Djokovic, but long odds don't seem to bother this 23-year-old rising star.
"Novak is a champion and a great player," Dancevic said. "Basically there's no messing around. I'm going to have to go after it tomorrow and do the same thing I did today. The guy's three in the world. I'm going to have to try to keep my focus throughout the whole match and not have any lapses. I've never played the guy before, so it's exciting for me. We'll see what happens."