Australian hopes have been crushed at the Italian Open, with rising stars Nick Kyrgios and Bernard Tomic both suffering first round losses.
A week after Kyrgios beat Roger Federer in Madrid, the 20-year-old was outclassed by Spanish 11th seed Feliciano Lopez, who won 6-4 7-6 (7-4) on Tuesday.
Tomic was then eliminated in a three-set battle, going down 7-6 (7-3) 6-7 (4-7) 7-6 (7-4) to Serb Viktor Troicki, who will next face Lopez.
Meanwhile, holder Novak Djokovic needed a late break in the final set to beat Nicolas Almagro 6-1 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 in his opening match.
The world No.1 took his record on the clay of the capital to a 30-5 career record, with titles in 2008, 2011 and a year ago over Rafael Nadal.
Djokovic broke for 5-3 against his Spanish opponent and served out the victory, finishing with 11 aces and just one break of serve.
It was the first competitive outing for Djokovic since winning Monte Carlo almost a month ago. The Serb is now riding an 18-match win streak.
Andy Murray will take to the court on Wednesday after agonising with his team as to whether he should play. The back-to-back titleholder at Munich and Madrid will start against France’s Jeremy Chardy.
Murray’s team was split on whether he should compete or rest, with the competition view winning out.
Murray, who defeated Nadal in the shock Madrid final, said that his preparation for Roland Garros seems to be on track.
“This year I feel a lot healthier on the clay, I have to thank my team, which has made some big changes in my clay preparation. That’s helped for sure,” the Scot said.
“I also didn’t feel much pressure last week, I didn’t have very high expectations. I just played and felt better and better in each match.”