Bernard Tomic has suffered a deflating start to his Australian summer, crashing out of the Brisbane International in the opening round.
Tomic lasted just 83 minutes on Monday as he went down to eighth-seeded Spaniard David Ferrer 6-3 7-5 in a hail of unforced errors on Pat Rafter Arena.
The Gold Coaster traditionally performs well at his home tournament but struggled badly on serve and could not get his forehand working against the far more consistent Ferrer.
His world No.26 ranking will drop after failing to defend points achieved last year with his run to the semi-finals in Brisbane, before losing to eventual champion Milos Raonic.
Tomic lost his opening two service games against Ferrer, the former world No.3, and could only blame himself for producing a sixth double fault to lose the first set in 36 minutes.
He appeared to be troubled by a twinge early as he over-extended for a winning sliced backhand but managed to go shot for shot with Ferrer in the second set.
Games went on serve but Tomic was made to work harder for each before falling short of taking the set into a tiebreaker.
Tomic saved two match points but again was let down by his serve with his eighth double fault, allowing world No.21 Ferrer free passage into the second round where he’ll meet Australian wildcard Jordan Thompson.
Tomic praised the class and consistency of Ferrer, 34, but also blamed his first-serve inaccuracy and a heavy training load for his woes.
The 24-year-old looked lethargic and admitted he “felt flat” after working extremely hard on his fitness in the off-season but denied he was carrying any injuries.
“That’s what cost me – I served terrible,” he said.
“I was sort of expecting it. He’s a guy who has made his career based on being a machine and getting every ball back and he’s one of the top players in the world in the past six or seven years.
“It was a match that was always going to be tough and he was just playing too solid than I was.”
Tomic, who will play exhibition matches in Sydney and Melbourne, denied it was a dent to his confidence heading towards the Australian Open.
French world No.39 Nicolas Mahut also won through to the second round after overcoming compatriot Stephane Robert 4-6 6-3 6-4.