Milos Raonic fought Roger Federer tooth and nail a few days ago, but a potential match with Rafael Nadal fell by the wayside for the Canadian when he was sent packing in the first round of the Italian Open on Sunday.
The Thornhill, Ont., native lost 7-6 (5), 6-4 to German veteran Florian Mayer in Rome.
"I was playing quite well," said Raonic. "He just played better. He jumped on everything I hit, I couldn't rise to his level today.
Raonic hit just eight aces after firing 21 against Federer.
"Today was tough conditions," said Raonic of the hot, dry spring weather in the capital. "I could have done a few things better.
Raonic was one spot ahead of Mayer in last week's ATP rankings.
Despite Sunday's result, the new rankings Monday will see Raonic improve to a career best 21st, up from 23rd last week, with Mayer falling to 28th.
That's because the new rankings in part reflect Raonic's a good showing last week on the blue clay of the Madrid Open. Raonic beat former Grand Slam finalist David Nalbandian before losing a close three set match to eventual tournament champion Federer.
The red clay courts of the Italian Open "seem like paradise" to Novak Djokovic after a week on the experimental blue surface in Madrid.
The top-ranked Serb was one of several top players who were highly critical of the blue clay tested at the Madrid Open, especially after Djokovic lost to fellow Serb Janko Tipsarevic in the quarterfinals.
Djokovic says that in Rome "you can actually be on the ball and slide well, where there you were slipping and falling down."
Nadal was also critical of the service.
First-round play at the Foro Italico began Sunday with former French Open winner Juan Carlos Ferrero beating Kevin Anderson of South Africa 6-4, 7-5.
In other results, wildcard entry Paolo Lorenzi delighted the home crowd with an uspet of Russian veteran Nikolay Davydenko by scores of 6-3, 2-6, 6-3.
Mikhail Youzhny of Russia, Andreas Seppi of Italy, and Viktor Troicki of Serbia.
On the women's side, Alexandra Wozniak of Blainville, Que., earned a place in the WTA draw after beating Italian Natassja Burnett 7-6 (3), 4-6, 6-4 in a match that lasted two hours 38 minutes.
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