Djokovic starts U.S. Open buildup with Montreal win

Top-ranked Novak Djokovic began his preparation for the U.S. Open by defeating Thomaz Bellucci 6-3, 7-6 (7/4) Tuesday, advancing to the third round of the ATP Montreal Masters.

But there was no luck with the weather for Andy Murray, with the British second seed forced off court at 4-4 against Spain’s Tommy Robredo when rain struck less than an hour before midnight, postponing the finish of the contest until Wednesday.

Serbian top seed Djokovic made his first appearance since winning Wimbledon more than a month ago. He also created a bit of personal history with his 250th win at the Masters 1000 level.

Djokovic is riding a win steak in the elite series, winning the last five he has contested dating back to Paris Bercy last November. He remains undefeated in his last 27 matches at the Masters.

Djokovic will now wait for a winner from American Jack Sock and 14th seed Grigor Dimitrov. Sock beat Adrian Mannarino 6-2, 2-6, 7-6 (5) while Dimitrov eliminated Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-4, 7-5.

“It was a very intense match for both players,” he said of his fourth win over Bellucci and his first on hardcourt in the series. “There was a lot of tension and a very high quality.

“I managed to stay cool and mentally tough in the right moment. That’s what I take out of this match – the ability to play my best and stay calm in the right moments and overcome this tough challenge.”

Ivo Karlovic beat eighth seed Milos Raonic 7-6 (1), 7-6 (1), after the Canadian saved three match points before losing for his earliest exit in Montreal since 2010. The winner’s 22 aces sent him past 10,000 for his career.

In the first round, holder Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the French 10th seed, opened his campaign with a defeat of Borna Coric 6-4, 6-4 while Czech Lukas Rosol upset South African 12th seed Kevin Anderson 7-6 (2), 7-6 (4)

Belgian 13th seed David Goffin put out American Steve Johnson 6-2, 6-2. John Isner, the No. 16 and a finalist last week in Washington, struggled past Germany’s Benjamin Becker 6-4, 6-7 (6/8), 6-3.

Australian Nick Kyrgios began his hardcourt run with a 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 victory over Fernando Verdasco under the watchful eye of new mentor Lleyton Hewitt.

Kyrgios, the world No. 41, is working alongside Australia’s double grand slam winner in an informal capacity, with the 34-year-old elder statesman of the current Aussie game happy to help out the 20-year-old youngster.

But Kyrgios said the arrangement remains flexible and fluid, with Hewitt also attending to his own business on court as he goes into the final months of a career due to end early in 2016 after playing in his last Australian Open.

“He’s not my coach. Let’s clear that up now,” Kyrgios said after his victory in 95 minutes over Spain’s Verdasco in a first-time meeting featuring 15 aces off the Aussie racket.

“He’s more of a mentor. Lleyton is very kind to take time away from his family and his career to help me and Thanassi (Kokkinakis). We don’t know how long it will last but it is a great help.”

Kyrgios has not played since losing his only singles rubber in Davis Cup play last month after finishing a turbulent Wimbledon fortnight which was marred by outbursts and controversy from his side.

Kyrgios called his win over Verdasco acceptable. “I was pleased to get a win over a quality opponent,” he said before moving into a second-round clash with French Open champion Stan Wawrinka. “I’m really happy with myself.”