Speculation about where Bernard Tomic’s career is headed appears set to grow after he added to his disastrous 2017 season with a fifth consecutive first-round defeat of the season at the Monte Carlo Masters.
Tomic, playing on his least favourite surface against Argentine clay court specialist Diego Schwartzman, went down in straight sets 6-1, 7-6 (7-3).
The loss follows opening-round exits in Indian Wells, Acapulco, Delray Beach and Memphis, with the Australian Open — where he made the third round — being the only tournament where he has won a singles match in 2017.
He also lost in the first round of the Brisbane International in January.
Tomic now has a 2-6 win-loss record, slipping from a ranking of 17 last year to number 43.
Matters will likely get worse before they get better for the former Wimbledon quarter-finalist, with Tomic winning just three of 11 matches on clay during the past two years.
His best chance of a rankings boost will come during the grass court season where he typically performs well.
Even that could be something of a task this year though, as Tomic is unlikely to be seeded for Wimbledon where he has points to defend from making the fourth round in 2016.
Tomic at least had his moments against Schwartzman as the match wore on, serving for the second set and even having a set point.
But Schwartzman, ranked 41 in the world, broke back and ultimately took the set in a tie-break to win the match.
Novak Djokovic, who has been drawn in the same half of the draw as nine-time champion Rafael Nadal, will start his campaign on Tuesday against Gilles Simon.