Big reach to Big 3

MIKE GANTER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:33 AM ET

The step up from No. 24 to No. 3 proved to be just a bit too steep for Canada's No. 1- ranked tennis player, Frank Dancevic.

The Niagara Falls native stayed with the Rogers Cup's defending champ, Novak Djokovic, for the first nine games last night. The two combatants held serve until Djokovic broke through on Dancevic's fifth service game to earn a 6-4 in the first set.

The second was much the same as Djokovic went on to a 6-4, 6-4 win.

Dancevic took the loss in stride as he should, given the fact he was playing one of the big three in men's tennis today.

"I think the top three guys -- Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Djokovic -- are dominating the game right now and they are on a different level from everyone else," Dancevic said.

"To get up there, you need a lot of work and a lot of consistent wins. You have to respect that."

Dancevic is not in that group yet, but his performance here and in Montreal a year ago, when he got all the way to the quarterfinals, shows he is making strides towards that upper echelon.

"It only takes a couple of good tournaments a year to make a breakthrough and then you gain confidence and from there you don't know where you can go," Dancevic said.

"Little breakthroughs have happened in my career where I have made finals and quarters last year. Maybe this year I might have a breakthrough like that and gain some confidence and we'll see what happens from there."

Djokovic, however, lived up to his "different level" tag last night.

Dancevic had two chances to break the Serbian star in the first game of the night but came up short and never really threatened afterwards.

"Novak today, it felt like he was on top of his game from the first ball," Dancevic said. "His returns were getting better and better as the match went on. Usually, I get a lot of points on my first serve, but it felt like a lot of balls were coming back and that puts added pressure on my side of the court."

Djokovic, who watched Dancevic's upset of 24th-ranked Mario Ancic the night before, felt the Canadian was less aggressive last night.

"I thought that he was serving well, but maybe he was a little too defensive on the baseline rallies and I took advantage of that," Djokovic said. "I stayed patient and waited to take advantage of my opportunities. I knew I would get those throughout the matchup but I wanted to be aggressive at the same time and not allow him to take advantage of the shot and get to the net. That is when he is most dangerous.

"That is what he did against Ancic. Today he was maybe a little too defensive."

And while Dancevic chases Djokovic in the rankings (albeit from a much greater distance) there is a perception out there that the latter did not deny that he too is doing a little chasing of his own.

The difference is he is chasing just two guys. The leap for Dancevic is much broader than that.

Djokovic said he feels no pressure to track down the No. 1 and 2 spots in the world, but left the impression he believes it is not a matter of if but when he catches Federer and Nadal in the rankings.

"I don't want to put extra pressure on myself that I need to reach the second or the first place in the world in this year or next," Djokovic said. "I'm only 21. I have all the time in the world. I just need to be healthy and keep on playing well."


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