MONTREAL — Frederic Niemeyer has set the stage for a dream matchup, but fellow Canadian Frank Dancevic wasn’t able to join the party.
Niemeyer advanced to the second round of the US$3-million Rogers Cup on Monday with a 7-5, 6-1 upset over world No. 39 Igor Kunitsyn of Russia at Uniprix Stadium, while ninth-ranked Gilles Simon of France eliminated Dancevic with a 6-1, 6-2 win.
Niemeyer, a native of Deauville, Que., ranked 487th in the world and playing his final season of professional tennis, will now be the first opponent for top-ranked Roger Federer since he won Wimbledon on July 6.
“It will be an honour to play Roger in front of this crowd,” said Niemeyer, 33, who will play on centre court Tuesday evening. He’s the greatest player of all time, so to finish against him will be special. Or to beat him.”
Federer has been on hiatus to attend to the July 23 birth of his twin daughters, and Niemeyer hopes he can use some of that parental fatigue to his advantage in his first match against Federer since a 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 loss in 1998.
“I also played a tournament when my daughter was two weeks (old), and I didn’t sleep very much that week,” Niemeyer said. “He has two (kids), so hopefully he doesn’t sleep at all.”
Dancevic, of Niagara Falls, Ont., saw his late evening match delayed twice by rain and never appeared to find his rhythm once the weather stabilized just after 11 p.m., making a litany of unforced errors that left him little chance of beating the efficient Simon.
Dancevic won the hearts of the Montreal faithful when he reached the quarter-finals of this tournament in 2007, but he lasted only 57 minutes this time in front of a smattering of fans who waited out the delays.
Niemeyer will be joined in the second round by Peter Polansky of Thornhill, Ont., who won his all-Canadian first-round matchup with Bruno Agostinelli of Niagara Falls, Ont., 6-3, 7-6 (6).
“Peter is a great player,” said Agostinelli, a wild card who plays at the University of Kentucky. “He qualified for the Australian and French Open this year, so all credit to him. He’s a great player. I was just glad I was a part of all this.”
Polansky, ranked 225th in the world, will face the world’s fourth-ranked player Novak Djokovic of Serbia on centre court Tuesday afternoon.
“I had a lot of pressure on this (match), and the next one not so much, so I can go out there and just play,” Polansky said. “I just thought there was probably a lot of expectation on me to win that, even though (Agostinelli) is a good player, but obviously I’m the more experienced player and just expected to win that one.”
Monday also saw the return of world No. 2 Rafael Nadal to competitive action as the Spaniard won his first-round doubles match with countryman Francisco Roig 7-5, 6-4 over the Serbian duo of Djokovic and Dusan Vemic.
Meanwhile, Niemeyer had to fight some adversity to earn his centre-court date with Federer.
Niemeyer was down 5-3 in the first set of his match Monday but fought back to make it 5-5 and was up 40-love when he hit his left knee with his own racket on an overhead volley.
“I was like, ‘Please don’t end like this,”’ he said. “The pain was very sharp at first, but it slowly went away.”
The major upset of the day came in its opening match when 65th ranked Russian Mikhail Youzhny knocked off 14th seed Marin Cilic of Croatia 4-6, 7-6 (4), 6-1.
In one of the day’s most entertaining matches, 13th seeded Gael Monfils of France bounced Russia’s Marat Safin 6-2, 3-6, 6-2.
It was the final time Safin, 29, will play in Canada as the former world No. 1 announced he will retire at the end of this season.
In other singles action Monday, Germany’s Rainer Schuettler easily handled France’s Florent Serra 6-4, 6-0, France’s Jeremy Chardy defeated Yen-Hsun Lu of Taiwan 6-3, 6-4, Paul-Henri Mathieu of France handled Spain’s Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 7-5, 0-6, 6-1, Germany’s Philipp Petzschner ousted American Steve Querrey 7-5, 6-3, Leonardo Mayer of Argentina downed Germany’s Mischa Zverev 7-6 (6), 6-3 and Russian Igor Andreev advanced to round two when countryman Dmitry Tursonov retired due to a left ankle injury with the score tied 5-5 in the first set.