By Dominique Cambron-Goulet
(August 8, 2013) MONTREAL – Twenty-nine breaks in four matches. That’s how returners excelled in third round night session of Montreal ATP Masters 1000. Sometimes because of injuries, sometimes because of amazing defensive play, it was all break points on Thursday night. Returners were 29/65 for an average of 45% in crucial points. Here’s a recap game by game.
Canadian Milos Raonic  once again took the energy from the crowd and defeated Juan Martin Del Potro  in straight sets 7-5, 6-4. Raonic called for medical treatments early in the first set due to an inflamed muscle in his neck. He came back fresh and broke Del Potro to lead 2-1. Del Potro would come back but Raonic broke him again to win the set 7-5.
Both players were not performing at their best. The Argentinean looked like he had a back problem. He had trouble serving more than 190 kph on his first serve. On the other side of the net, Raonic still had a little neck pain and hasn’t served at his best since the beginning of the week.
These serve problems resulted in five breaks in the second set. The last two going to the Canadian as Del Potro was disturbed mentally by a couple of close calls and overturned decisions by the chair umpire, notably when at 4-3, with Del Potro up a break in the second set when Raonic foot touched the net as the end of a point. Del Potro complained to the umpire to no avail.
Meanwhile on BN court, a Russian duel was taking place. Former top-10 Nikolay Davydenko came back in both sets to defeat Alex Bogomolov Jr. (who eliminated David Ferrer  the night before) 6-4, 6-3.
Bogomolov Jr. had mental breaks in both sets. Up 4-2 in the first set he couldn’t buy a game from that point on. The story was the same in the second set as he was up again 3-0. None of the players saved a break point in that set.
A big seeds clash was scheduled afterwards. Kei Nishikori  and Richard Gasquet  faced off in a fierce match. The Frenchman came back after an atrocious first set to win 1-6, 6-3, 6-3.
This match at almost two hours, featured a lot of long rallies and great defensive play from both players. Kei Nishikori pushed Gasquet often to the limit, but won only three of his eleven break points during the match.
Denis Istomin caused an upset in the first round, defeating Janko Tipsarevic  in two sets. But with the injuries the Serbian had and his unconvincing win against Filip Peliwo in the second round, everyone thought that it would be an easy night for Novak Djokovic. However, the 66th ranked Uzbekistan player wasn’t seeing it this was has he played one of his best matches ever.
Istomin would attack everything while relying on a great serve to take away the first set by two breaks 6-2. He also started the second stretch well but as it always is against Djokovic, it was hard to keep up that pace. The No. 1 player in the world served well, giving Istomin no break points chances in the set, and kept his early break to win 6-4.
Djokovic was really dominating the third set as Istomin looked tired on return games. The Serbian would complete the comeback with a similar set 6-4 even if the crowd were rooting for the underdog until the end. Crowd even cheered for him as he left the court. But you can’t blame them. Istomin played the match of his life even though he lost.
Last time I was in Montreal for the Masters, in 2009, the top-8 players of the world were facing each other in the quarterfinals. 2013’s tournament is totally different with all those seeds out since the beginning of the tournament (especially in the lower half of the draw) and no big clashes are scheduled on Friday.
Nikolay Davydenko will face Cinderella (Vasek) Pospisil in another match where the crows will have strong emotions.
Milos Raonic , only seed left in the lower half, will face Ernest Gulbis who’s strong from his win against Andy Murray. Injury might be a factor in this match for the Canadian. However, the crowd will be cheering loudly for the local player as everyone is hoping for an all-Canadian semifinal here in Montreal.
Rafael Nadal  will face qualifier Marinko Matosevic. “He’s on streak, he could be dangerous”, admitted Nadal in a news conference Thursday. But for sure, Nadal, whose health has been an issue this year, is probably happy to have a less dangerous player on his way to the semifinal.
The last matchup seems more promising with a clash between Novak Djokovic and Richard Gasquet. Although the Frenchman is inconsistent, everyone knows he can pull out and important match from time to time and beat the best of the world.
Dominique Cambron-Goulet has been teaching tennis for ten years and is now a journalist in Montreal. Follow his reports all week from Rogers Cup here and live on twitter @TennisNewsTPN.