Rogers Cup ATP Montreal: Ivan Dodig Blasts Through Rafael Nadal

No. 2 Rafael Nadal became the latest big name to crash out early at the Rogers Cup, falling to Croatian Ivan Dodig 1-6, 7-6(5), 7-6(5).

Nadal joins Andy Murray, Caroline Wozniacki, and Kim Clijsters (due to injury) on the list of elite players who did not make it through their first match on hard courts since Wimbledon. This was Nadal's first match since losing the No. 1 spot in the ATP rankings to Novak Djokovic.

Dodig controlled points from the net with incredible effectiveness, knocking away volley winners as a way of negating the high kick of Nadal's shots.

While previous first-match losses by Andy Murray and Caroline Wozniacki can be written off as products of their rust and inconsistency, Nadal really didn't play all that badly in this match. Dodig simply played above his level for the entire second and third sets, in the zone to a degree that I've rarely seen before.

Dodig is yet another example of a player who is playing his best tennis deep into his career. A 26-year-old journeyman who did not break the top 100 until late 2010, Dodig won his first ATP title in February of this year in Zagreb, and will move to a career high ranking (somewhere higher than No. 37) with his run in Montreal this week.

Stay tuned to SB Nation's coverage of the 2011 US Open Series at SBNation.com as well as on Twitter, @DailyForehand .

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