There were no cartoon-character sightings Monday at the fancy tennis club in Longboat Key, Fla. where Canadian Frank Dancevic returned to action.
The 29-year-old Canadian hadn’t stepped on a match court since he retired in a deciding Davis Cup rubber in Tokyo in early February, down 2-6, 0-1 to Kei Nishikori, with a stomach muscle problem.
He looked no worse for wear, albeit a little rusty, in a 5-7, 6-3, 7-5 victory over Tim Smyczek of the U.S. in the first round of the Sarasota Open Monday.
The first time Dancevic served for the match, he coughed up the break on two double faults. But given a second chance, he put it away, nearly 2 1/2 hours after it began. He’ll play Japanese-American Taro Daniel in the second round.
Dancevic’s season started reasonably well, as he won three qualifying matches in Melbourne to make the main draw.
There was some solid tape on that left ab area in the final match against Potito Starace – which presaged the Davis Cup disaster even though, for some reason, Davis Cup captain Martin Laurendeau put an even more injured Vasek Pospisil on the four-man squad and counted on Dancevic to play two singles AND a doubles.
It was likely the doubles that finished him off.
He did get through his first-round match against Benoit Paire in Australia, although it would be more accurate to say he survived it, given the intense heat. After that, he played a Challenger in Maui and lost in the second round to youngster Takanyi Garanganga of Zimbabwe.
Shortly before Indian Wells, Dancevic had planned a return to action at a small Futures event in Gatineau, Quebec. But apparently he injured his back in practice shortly before it began, and withdrew.
A little over a month later, he’s finally back.
Countryman Peter Polansky takes the court Tuesday against Ilija Bozoljac of Serbia.
(Screen grabs from the Sarasota Open livestream – you can watch all week here, and it looks like the matches are archived).