Montreal: Wimbledon champion Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal competed on hard courts for the first time in five months on Wednesday, with both reaching the third round of the Montreal Masters.
Second seed Murray shook off his post-Wimbledon cobwebs with a fighting 6-4, 7-6 (7/2) victory over Marcel Granollers.
The win — his 13th in succession — came just over a month after the Scot made history with the first British Wimbledon men’s singles title since 1936.
French Open champion Nadal, seeded fourth, showed no mercy to Canada’s Jesse Levine in a 6-2, 6-0 win as the Spaniard returned to action for the first time since his shock Wimbledon opening round loss to Steve Darcis six weeks ago. Nadal saved three break points while breaking Levine five times in 71 minutes on court.
“The knee is not bothering me much,” said Nadal. “In the last couple of days, I was able to practice with no limitation, that is the most important thing.
“After seven weeks without playing tennis, you start a tournament on hard court, that is tougher for the body.
“You always feel a few things at the beginning. But hopefully those things will not limit my chances to play well.”
Nadal next takes on Wimbledon semi-finalist Jerzy Janowicz, who beat Canada’s Frank Dancevic 7-6 (7/5), 3-6, 6-4.
Murray’s victory puts him in a match against Latvian Ernests Gulbis, a 6-3, 1-6, 6-1 winner over Italian 13th seed Fabio Fognini.
“I was nervous beforehand, that was a good sign. I’m pretty ready to move forward and not think too much about Wimbledon and concentrate on the US Open,” Murray said.
“If I’d lost today, it would have just broken the momentum a little bit. The more matches I can get in the next few weeks, the better.”
Murray, the reigning US Open champion, had his teething troubles against Granollers, who won the Kitzbuhel clay court title last weekend.
Murray won the opening set in just under an hour, despite 19 unforced errors to 18 for his opponent.
Murray then fought back from 2-5 down in the second set, saving a set point in the 10th game before finally guaranteeing a tiebreaker.
Trailing 0-2 in the decider, the world number two clicked into gear to run out the winner on the first of four match points as Granollers committed his final unforced error.
Murray, the champion in Canada in 2009 and 2010, now stands 35-5 for the season.
In a rain-interrupted match, third seed David Ferrer lost to Alex Bogomolov 6-2, 6-4, while sixth seed and weekend Washington champion Juan Martin del Potro struggled before finally overcoming Croatian Ivan Dodig 6-4, 4-6, 7-5.
The Argentine winner came from two breaks down in the final set to rescue the match and reach the third round.
Canadian Vasek Pospisil, who is ranked 71st in the world, followed up his defeat of John Isner in the first round by routing Czech Radek Stepanek 6-2, 6-4 in the second round.
He was joined in the third round by compatriot and world number 11 Milos Raonic, who produced a smooth victory over Mikhail Youzhny 6-4, 6-4.
Fifth seed Tomas Berdych beat Alexandr Dolgopolov of the Ukraine 6-3, 6-4, but Swiss eighth seed Stanislas Wawrinka fell to his French practice partner Benoit Paire 6-2, 7-6 (7/2).
Wawrinka was the only Swiss in the field after Roger Federer pulled out with a back injury.
Results on the third day of the Montreal Masters on Wednesday (x denotes seed):
Denis Istomin (UZB) bt Filip Peliwo (CAN) 6-3, 3-6, 6-3
Rafael Nadal (ESP x4) bt Jesse Levine (CAN) 6-2, 6-0
Marinko Matosevic (AUS) bt Tommy Haas (GER x10) 5-0 - retired
Benoit Paire (FRA) bt Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI x8) 6-2, 7-6 (7/2)
Tomas Berdych (CZE x5) bt Alexandr Dolgopolov (UKR) 6-3, 6-4
Vasek Pospisil (CAN) bt Radek Stepanek (CZE) 6-2, 6-4
Ernests Gulbis (LAT) bt Fabio Fognini (ITA x13) 6-3, 1-6, 6-1
Andy Murray (GBR x2) bt Marcel Granollers (ESP) 6-4, 7-6 (7/2)
Jerzy Janowicz (POL x15) bt Frank Dancevic (CAN) 7-6 (7/5), 3-6, 6-4
Milos Raonic (CAN x11) bt Mikhail Youzhny (RUS) 6-4, 6-4
Nikolay Davydenko (RUS) bt Pablo Andujar (ESP) 6-1, 4-6, 6-3
Alex Bogomolov (RUS) bt David Ferrer (ESP x3) 6-2, 6-4
Juan Martin del Potro (ARG x6) bt Ivan Dodig (CRO) 6-4, 4-6, 7-5