Greg Rusedski, the British No 2 who has reached the finals of the last two tournaments he has played, was brought back to the game's realities when he was beaten 6-4, 6-2 by Sweden's Thomas Johansson in the first round of the Advanta Championships in Philadelphia.
Rusedski, ranked No 35 in the world, came into Monday night's match having finished as runner-up to Goran Ivanisevic in Zagreb and Pete Sampras in San Jose. However, because of the wrist injury that forced him to retire during the final against Sampras, he had not played for a week.
The left-handed Rusedski could not take advantage of five break points and was unable to hold his normally potent serve on a slow indoor carpet court. Johansson, ranked 65 in the world, was able to convert three of his 11 break points - in the ninth game of the first set, and the first and fifth games of the second set.
Rusedski was one of four seeded players to lose, with only the third- seeded Paul Haarhuis of the Netherlands surviving the first day. Haarhuis, ranked No 25, defeated Jiri Novak of the Czech Republic 6-4, 1-6, 6-3.
Jason Stoltenberg, the seventh seed from Australia, playing in only his second event since having surgery on his right forearm in early January, suffered a 6-2, 6-4 loss to a qualifier, Sjeng Schalken of the Netherlands.
The recent spate of injuries continued yesterday when the Russian Andre Chesnokov, hurt his ankle chasing a ball across the baseline in his first- round match against Todd Woodbridge, of Australia, and had to retire early in the second set. "I heard an enormous crack and I heard him screaming," Woodbridge said. "I think he must have broken his ankle joint."
In Italy, Ivanisevic, seemingly recovered from tendinitis in the shoulder which forced him out of the ATP tournament in Antwerp last week, began the defence of his Milan indoor title with a 7-6, 6-7, 6-2 victory against the Russian qualifier Andrei Olhovskiy yesterday.
The Croat took more risks and more time than expected to overcome his 30-year-old opponent. But Ivanisevic served his usual impressive number of aces - 22. Following a dubious line call and a double-fault in the third game of the second set, which cost him a break, the left-hander became erratic and lost the tie-break 7-2 after a string of unforced errors. In the third set, Ivanisevic broke twice to win the match in an hour and 42 minutes.