Showman Djokovic returns to tennis stage

Montreal: Novak Djokovic switches from the studio to the stadium after two well-received late-night US television appearances in the run-up to Monday`s start of the Montreal Masters.

Serbia`s new world number one is still celebrating his rise to top spot in the ATP rankings after winning Wimbledon last month, pushing Rafael Nadal down to second and leaving Roger Federer at number three.

Djokovic showed a natural talent for banter - and Serbian kolo folk dancing on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno - and also made a guest appearance one night later with host Conan O`Brien before flying to Canada from Los Angeles where he trained last week on the fringes of the ATP event at UCLA.

In Montreal, tennis`s big three, plus Briton Andy Murray, are already training on the hardcourts in the Francophile city.

Djokovic, who won the Montreal title in 2007, will enjoy the first-round bye given to the leading eight seeds before starting his campaign against the winner of the match between former top five regular Nikolay Davydenko and a qualifier.

Second seed Rafael celebrated this week`s Twitter debut with updates on his own practice after flying in from his island home on Mallorca.

The Spaniard, like Federer, will be making his first tournament appearance since Wimbledon, where he lost the final and his number one status to Djokovic.

Nadal begins against either Frenchman Jeremy Chardy or Croatian Ivan Dodig.

Federer, the third seed, comes to Canada confident as he celebrates his 30th birthday on Monday. An official celebration of some kind will be planned as per usual during this week for the 16-time Grand Slam champion from Switzerland.

"I`ve been practising the past two and a half weeks. It`s been somewhat good weather in Switzerland, so I could always practise outdoors, which I was quite happy about," he said.

"I`ve been playing well, moving well. But I always feel the true tests are in matches."

A handful of players will miss the first important date prior to the August 29 start of the US Open, with former number one Andy Roddick heading the absentee list with a continuing abdominal muscle problem.

Also out is number five Robin Soderling (wrist), Austrian Jurgen Melzer (pulled muscle this week in Washington), Spain`s Guillermo Garcia Lopez and Belgian veteran Xavier Malisse.

France`s Gael Monfils takes the fifth seeding, ahead of American Mardy Fish, who will hope that the heel injury that prompted him to pull out of Washington after reaching the final in Los Angeles is healed.

Former Wimbledon finalist Tomas Berdych is seeded seventh with Spaniard Nicolas Almagro eighth.

Three more French players are also seeded: Gilles Simon (ninth), Richard Gasquet (tenth) and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (13th).

Australian teenager Bernard Tomic, a surprise Wimbledon quarterfinalist, was given a wild card entry along with LA titleholder Ernests Gulbis.

Bureau Report

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