It is some time since Goran Ivanisevic lost an opening match, as his record of four titles from seven finals this year shows. Yesterday, however, the big-serving Croat was ill-prepared to meet Magnus Gustafsson at the Monte Carlo Open, and the Swede swept past him, 6-2, 6-2.
Gustafsson, who lost almost a year of his career following a shoulder operation, has restored himself to the world's top 50 from No 611 over the past 12 months with the help of wild cards, such as the one he received here.
"I expected a much tougher match," he said, "but Goran told me it was his first time this year on the clay, and I had played on it already. I was warm in my clothes, as we say in Sweden.''
Ivanisevic was by no means the day's only casualty. Whatever the saying about clothes might be in Spain, Sergi Bruguera, a twice winner of the tournament, was not pleased to be eliminated by a fellow citizen of Barcelona who has the same name as a lace headscarf: Mantilla.
Felix Mantilla, a 21-year-old qualifier ranked No 84, who has a severe haircut and a mean backhand, put paid to the ninth-seeded Bruguera, 7- 5, 6-2.
This is the season when Spanish competitors make the most of their time on the clay, and Bruguera, by his own admission, is still not moving as well as he would like after his injury problems last year. Mantilla, one of a posse of Spanish youngsters who have risen through the junior ranks, seized his opportunity.
So, too, did Carlos Costa, another Spanish qualifier, who eliminated Michael Chang, the No 3 seed, 6-7, 6-2, 6-4. It is Chang's first visit to Monte Carlo, and last year's French Open finalist did not arrive from the concrete courts of Tokyo until Sunday. In common with Ivanisevic, he has yet to find his legs on clay.
Chang was one of eight seeds to vanish yesterday, and 10 of the 16 seeds have disappeared after three days. The top two, Thomas Muster, the defending champion, and Andre Agassi are among the survivors, but Boris Becker only advanced to a third-round meeting with the exciting Chilean, Marcelo Rios, after defeating the Czech David Rikl, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.
Jim Courier, the eighth seed, lost to Spain's Javier Sanchez, 6-3, 6- 3, and illness contributed to the sixth-seeded Yevgeny Kafelnikov's defeat by France's Cedric Pioline, 6-4, 6-3. And Sjeng Schalken, a Dutch qualifier, outlasted Sweden's Thomas Enqvist, the seventh seed, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3
Among the non-seeded personalities, Stefan Edberg's three-set defeat in a duel of attacking play with the Dutchman Richard Krajicek was less surprising than the way the match unfolded. Few players could give Edberg eight games start on any surface, but Krajicek retrieved a 0-6, 0-2 deficit to win, 0-6, 6-4, 6-2.
Andrei Medvedev, the Ukrainian No 11 seed who won the title two years ago, made short work of Mark Philippoussis, winning 6-0, 6-2 in 59 minutes. It could be said that the big-serving young Australian was off his game: 12 double-faults, no aces.
n Britain were relegated from the Europe/Africa Group One of the Fed Cup at La Manga, Spain, yesterday despite beating Slovenia 2-1 in their last pool match.