Madrid: Canadian Milos Raonic continued his clay-court education on Tuesday, as the world number 25 schooled with a 4-6, 7-6 (7-2), 6-4 first round defeat by Spain's Feliciano Lopez at the Madrid Open.
It was the second time in 72 hours that the 20-year-old from Thornhill, Ontario, had been beaten by a Spaniard. Raonic had to quit with back pain in the weekend Estoril semi final against Fernando Verdasco.
Raonic 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, another Masters 1000 event, which begins on Sunday.
The Canadian went down to defeat in two hours, three minutes at the hands of the experienced and dangerous lefty Lopez, well at home on the courts of his home town.
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.
The Canadian 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 on his first match point, a 12th ace.