Canadian Milos Raonic continued his clay-court education with a 4-6, 7-6 (7-2), 6-4 defeat to Spain's Feliciano Lopez in the first round of the Madrid Open on Tuesday.
It was the second time in 72 hours that the 20-year-old from Thornhill, Ont., had been beaten by a Spaniard. Raonic had previously pulled out of an Estoril Open semi-final against Fernando Verdasco with back pain.
Raonic said his fitness was fine, but was his mental game let him down.
"The only thing I was really disappointed with by (was) my inability to keep up intensity and focus for the entire match," said Raonic. "I did a good job in the first set and a half, then I began drifting in and out of the match.
"I played well when the intensity was right, but I was too much up and down today."
Raonic, ranked 25th in the world, will now have a chance to recover before jumping back into the grinding run-up to the May 22 start of the French Open. He is due to play in Rome at another Masters 1000 event that begins Sunday.
"Recovery will be a big part of my program," he said. "I'll also try to squeeze in some fitness with Rome and the French Open coming up. Now is the time to try and do that."
The Canadian lost in two hours three minutes to the experienced and dangerous lefty Lopez, who was playing in the comfort of his hometown.
Raonic said he will think about what went wrong for him mentally, admitting the problem was only slightly related to his third-round loss in Monte Carlo last month to David Ferrer.
"Today was just poor discipline on my part. I'll think a lot about how to make sure that doesn't happen again," he said.
Raonic finished with a respectable 23 aces, but his big serve was not enough to keep him out of trouble against Lopez in the first meeting between the pair.
Raonic now stands 23-9 after starting his fourth consecutive week on clay - the first campaign of his career on the surface at the elite ATP level.
Raonic won the opening set in just under 30 minutes but was slowly overhauled by Lopez, who levelled at a set each with a tiebreaker and took the early third-set lead with a break in the opening game.
The Spaniard finished Raonic on his first match point, which was also his 12th ace of the match.