Rafa Nadal fluffed his lines on his return from a five-week break when the Spanish world No 2 was stunned 1-6, 7-6, 7-6 by unheralded Croat Ivan Dodig in his opening match of the Montreal Masters late on Wednesday.
Back in action for the first time since losing to Novak Djokovic in the Wimbledon final on 3 July, Nadal had looked poised for a routine comeback victory after storming through the opening set of the second-round encounter. However the Croat, ranked 41st in the world, had other ideas, matching Nadal shot for shot before ending the three-hour thriller with a backhand cross-court winner.
It was Nadal's first opening match defeat in a tournament since Rome 2008 and is a blow to his preparation for Flushing Meadows, where the Spaniard launches the defence of his US Open crown later this month. "I don't feel I played bad but in the decisive moments I didn't play well," Nadal said. "He didn't feel the pressure in the important moments."
The world No 1 Djokovic scrambled to a 7-5, 6-1 win over Nikolay Davydenko.