Lowly Chvojka scares No. 21 Dolgopolov

He ranks 290th in the world, trains without a coach, and had never before played in an ATP World Tour event.

Erik Chvojka from Canada returns the ball to Alexander Dolgopolov from the Ukraine during their first round match at the Rogers Cup tennis tournament in Montreal

Erik Chvojka from Canada returns the ball to Alexander Dolgopolov from the Ukraine during their first round match at the Rogers Cup tennis tournament in Montreal

MONTREAL — He ranks 290th in the world, trains without a coach, and had never before played in an ATP World Tour event.

But that didn’t stop Canadian tennis player Erik Chvojka from delivering a scare Monday to No. 21-ranked Alexandr Dolgopolov — a feat that thrilled a boisterous pro-Canuck crowd at the Rogers Cup in Montreal.

Chvojka, a 24-year-old from the Montreal suburb of Kirkland, battled hard against Dolgopolov’s slicing backhands, before falling 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 at Uniprix Stadium.

“It was a beautiful day for me today,” said Chvojka, who, as a kid, often watched his tennis idols play live at the Montreal event.

“I was a bit nervous waking up. But this is normal, I guess.”

Chvojka’s match, which drew chants and rumbling cheers from the partisan crowd, was an early highlight on the tournament’s opening day.

The top eight seeds received first-round byes Monday in a star-studded Rogers Cup that features eight of the world’s top 10 players.

But that didn’t mean there wasn’t plenty of action on the hard-court.

Switzerland’s Stanislas Wawrinka opened the men’s main draw with a 6-1, 6-4 win over Argentina’s David Nalbandian.The 14th-seeded Wawrinka will play either American qualifier Michael Russell or Spain’s Albert Montanes in the next round.

Kevin Anderson of South Africa, beat Spain’s Pablo Andujar 6-4, 6-4, in the other early match.

Later in the day, Ernests Gulbis of Latvia defeated Juan Carlos Ferrero of Spain, 3-6, 6-1, 7-5.

Brazil’s Thomaz Bellucci knocked out Andrey Golubev of Kazakhstan, 7-5, 7-6 (6); Ivo Karlovic of Croatia, edged Juan Monaco of Argentina, 6-7 (2), 6-3, 7-6 (5); Alex Bogomolov Russia, defeated France’s Adrian Mannarino, 6-2, 7-6 (4); Croatia’s Ivan Dodig beat Jeremy Chardy of France, 6-3, 6-4; Marin Cilic of Croatia defeated Italy’s Andreas Seppi, 7-5, 6-4.

World No. 1 singles player, Novak Djokovic of Serbia, started off the Rogers Cup with a victory — in doubles. Djokovic and countryman Janko Tipsarevic beat Mark Knowles of Bahamas and Philipp Petzscner of Germany, 5-7, 6-3 (12-10).

In an evening ceremony, U.S. tennis legend Jimmy Connors is scheduled to be officially inducted into the Rogers Cup Hall of Fame.

But it was the hometown component that got fans out of their seats.

Chvojka, who lost the first set to Dolgopolov, said it wasn’t easy for him to bounce back to win the second against the 22-year-old from Ukraine.

“It was great for him because he quieted down the crowd and everything was going his way,” said Chvojka, who had never played anyone ranked higher than No. 94.

“He served very well at times, as well. I think he managed his match very well. I had the whole crowd with me, which could be hard if you’re on the other side of that.”

Fans shouted “Come on Canada!” and “Come on Erik!” as they watched the tight contest. Several even left their centre-court seats in the middle of Wawrinka’s match to peer down from a walkway onto the neighbouring stadium where Chvojka was playing.

On the court, the emotional left-hander followed many of his big points with arm pumps.

About a year ago, a scene like this was far from Chvojka’s mind.

In 2010, Chvojka ranked 1,462nd in the world and had given up tennis in the fall to study mechanical engineering at McGill University. He said he hung up his racquet after suffering discouraging injuries.

But his scholastic endeavour lasted two weeks before he was urged back onto the court by family and friends.

“I liked school, but I felt I was getting fit again and I could make my studies a bit later, and that now was the time for me to play tennis,” he said.

Chvojka he still doesn’t have a coach and only hired a personal trainer in the last year.

“We met and I took him to a hill, we did a bunch of stuff, he threw up after about 45 minutes,” his trainer, Steve Hoather, said of their first training session.

But Hoather insisted Chvojka’s hard work in the gym has paid off in a big way — and he said it was evident on the court Monday.

“Dolgopolov’s a tricky player, he’s got a lot of touch, so he had a few beautiful drop shots — Erik got to every one of them,” he said.

Chvojka plans to stick with tennis and hopes to crack the top-200 by the end of the year.

“It’s my first match at a big event in the main draw on a stadium court,” he said.

“I can only take good things from this match. I’ve just got to keep working on my game.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The future of Westerner Park continues to be plagued by many unknowns, including when city council will make a decision about financing its operations. (File photo by Advocate staff).
Red Deer city council delays making decision on Westerner Park financing

It will mean missing the next opportunity to apply for a provincial loan

Nineteen-year-old Amanda enjoys a ride during a visit to Spirit’s Respite Ranch near Stettler. photo submitted
Busy days at Spirit’s Respite Ranch near Stettler

The ranch, which launched operations last summer, provides support through animal interaction

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer at the announcement that the city will be getting a drug treatment court Thursday. Jason Luan, associate minister of mental health and addictions, looks on.
Photo by PAUL COWLEY/Advocate staff
Veer concerned about rising COVID-19 cases in Red Deer

The City of Red Deer is reminding citizens to protect themselves against… Continue reading

Rode
Volunteering played major role in RDC awards

Under normal circumstances, the RDC Red Deer Bottling Athlete of the Year… Continue reading

Alberta chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said on Thursday that the province has seen its first case of the B.1.617 variant. (Photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Red Deer nears record number of active COVID-19 cases

Alberta reports 1,857 new cases of COVID-19, 1,326 new variants

Curtis Labelle (second from left) and his band are planning a cross-Canada tour in 2022. Meanwhile, Labelle is continuing to host his weekly livestreamed talk show, Chattin 88. (Contributed photo).
Red Deer rock pianist takes on a talk show role

Curtis Labelle’s Chattin 88 gets views from around the globe

Health Minister Patty Hajdu is shown at a COVID-19 press conference in Ottawa on Friday, Dec. 11, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/David Kawai
Health Canada proposes new restrictions on talc in some personal care products

Health Canada proposes new restrictions on talc in some personal care products

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady passes under pressure from Kansas City Chiefs defensive end Alex Okafor during the second half of the NFL Super Bowl 55 football game, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. Lawmakers are debating legislation to legalize single-event betting as a bill reaches final reading in the House of Commons. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Mark Humphrey
Bill on single-game sports betting on cusp of passing — but not for first time

Bill on single-game sports betting on cusp of passing — but not for first time

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland holds a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
More supply needed to ease housing price crunch, but always more to do, Freeland says

More supply needed to ease housing price crunch, but always more to do, Freeland says

Letisha Reimer is shown in a photo, part of a memorial to her outside Abbotsford Senior Secondary School in Abbotsford, B.C., Monday, Nov.7, 2016. A B.C. Supreme Court judge is expected to deliver her decision today over whether a man who stabbed two high school students is not criminally responsible because he had a mental disorder. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geordon Omand
Man who stabbed two students in Abbotsford, B.C., found criminally responsible

Man who stabbed two students in Abbotsford, B.C., found criminally responsible

Light from the sunset hits the skyline in Toronto, Ont., on Tuesday October 31, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Blinch
Hate crimes jumped 51 per cent in part spurred by pandemic, Toronto police report

Hate crimes jumped 51 per cent in part spurred by pandemic, Toronto police report

A passenger from Air India flight 187 from New Delhi arrives at Pearson Airport in Toronto on Wednesday April 21, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Canada to suspend flights from India and Pakistan for 30 days

Canada to suspend flights from India and Pakistan for 30 days

Inter Pipeline's Heartland Petrochemical Complex in Fort Saskatchewan, Alta. is shown in this undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Inter Pipeline *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Hostile takeover target Inter Pipeline reports 60% of Heartland plant is contracted

Hostile takeover target Inter Pipeline reports 60% of Heartland plant is contracted

Smoke pours from the stacks at the Portlands Energy Centre in Toronto on Thursday January 15, 2009. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Risk experts say climate change to take big chunk of Canadian economy by 2050

Risk experts say climate change to take big chunk of Canadian economy by 2050

Most Read