|Erik Chvojka. (CHARLES WILLIAM PELLETIER/QMI Agency)
MONTREAL - Canadian Erik Chvojka bowed out in the first round of the Rogers Cup, but not before the Montrealer provided some thrilling moments for a home crowd that included friends and family.
The 24-year-old, ranked 290th in the world, was defeated by 21st-ranked Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 at Uniprix Stadium.
As the crowd chanted "Erik, Erik," Chvojka bounced back from a lopsided opening set to edge out his opponent in the second on the strength of strong groundstrokes.
Dolgopolov, however, dominated the third and final set with a stronger power game, converting 12 aces and wearing down Chvojka. The Canadian had been invited to the main draw as a wild card and was playing in his first major tournament on the ATP tour.
"I was a bit nervous waking up ... but this is normal, I guess," he told reporters afterward. "It was a beautiful day for me today ... I had my friends and my family watching among the crowd, which is something that rarely happens when you're travelling abroad."
Chvojka considered quitting the sport last year and had enrolled in McGill's engineering program. But the desire to play still burned in him and he left school after just two weeks to resume training.
"For this year I would like to end top 200," Chvojka said. "I would like to be able to play the (qualifiers) for the Australian Open. I will work hard for that."
Dolgopolov will move on to face seventh-seeded Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic, who won their only previous matchup last year at the Rogers Cup in Toronto.
The only Canadian left in the singles draw is Vasek Pospisil of Vernon, B.C., who takes on Argentina's Juan Ignacio Chela on Tuesday.
The first evening singles draw on Monday saw Argentina's Juan Martin Del Potro manhandle Finland's Jarkko Nieminen 6-4, 6-0.
Del Potro, the tournament's 16th seed, started well by breaking Nieminen's serve in the first game. The second set was a disaster for the Finn, who was unable to win a single game against the world's No. 19 player.
Del Potro moves on to face Croatia's Marin Cilic, who defeated Romanian Andreas Seppi 7-5, 6-4 Monday.
The final evening match at centre court saw Frenchman Jo-Wilfrid Tsonga, the No. 13 seed, prevail in straight sets over unseeded Italian Fabio Fognini. Tsonga won the match 6-4, 7-6, ending with seven straight points in the tiebreaker. Tsonga, who celebrated his win with a twirling dance move, advances to play Australian Bernard Tomic, who blew by Yen-Hsun Lu of Chinese Taipei 7-6, 6-3.
Earlier in the day, world No. 17 Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland advanced easily by defeating Argentine David Nalbandian in straight sets 6-1, 6-4. Wawrinka dominated Nalbandian in the 23-minute first set, and the match was over in just 69 minutes.
Wawrinka blasted eight aces against Nalbandian. He'll face the winner of the match between American Michael Russell and Albert Montanes of Spain.
The top seeds at the Rogers Cup all get byes into Tuesday's second round.
World No. 1 Novak Djokovic of Serbia plays Russian Nikolay Davydenko, who easily defeated Italian Flavio Cipolla in the opening round.
Also receiving byes are No. 2 seed Rafael Nadal, third-ranked Roger Federer and No. 4 seed Andy Murray.
NOTES: Djokovic, recently crowned the world's No. 1 player, was honoured before his doubles match on Monday. Tournament organizers surprised Djokovic with a video tribute to the magical 2011 season that has seen him win eight tournaments, including the Australian Open and Wimbledon. "It's an honour," he told the crowd. "It is nice to receive it here in Montreal where I won in 2007. At the time, it was my most important victory of my career." ... Djokovic and countryman Janko Tipsarevic won their doubles match, beating Mark Knowles and Philipp Petzschner 5-7, 6-3, 12-10 ... Tennis legend Jimmy Connors was inducted into the Rogers Cup Hall of Fame Monday. World champion boxer Lucian Bute of Montreal presented Connors with his plaque.