Andy Murray had a disappointing start to his clay season, losing 6-1 1-6 6-3 to Gilles Simon in the Rome Masters.
|Murray was making his return after a back injury|
Tenth seed Murray broke in the first game but then dropped serve three times as Simon wrapped up the first set 6-1.
Scot Murray fought back in the second set to level the match but play was then halted by a three-hour rain break.
When the players returned, a sluggish Murray quickly went 4-0 down in the decider and, despite clawing a break back, he could not prevent defeat.
Murray was making his return after a back injury and admitted afterwards that his lack of match practice was a factor in his defeat.
"I didn't feel great physically on the long rallies," he said. "I was a bit rusty.
"It's always difficult when you come back after pretty much six weeks out of the Tour.
"It takes a little while to find your timing and get used to the kind of intensity that you play at week in, week out."
The teenager, who turns 20 next week, certainly began slowly in the damp conditions at the Foro Italico.
After losing the first set in just 24 minutes to the world number 58, Murray was helped when the players had to leave the court briefly for a rain break.
When they returned, the 19-year-old finally held serve and then broke the unseeded Simon.
The 22-year-old Frenchman immediately broke back but then faltered when serving at 1-2, getting annoyed with himself for not converting a game point.
It proved a turning point in the set as Murray then broke him and went on to win the next three games to level the match.
Another rain shower caused a longer delay of several hours and the floodlights were on in the Foro Italico when the players returned.
Murray has played seven matches this year that have gone to a deciding set and has won them all.
But on a damp court in front of a dwindling crowd the Scot could not find any sort of rhythm and a succession of errors and double faults saw him quickly go 4-0 down.
The Frenchman again looked hesitant and vulnerable, allowing Murray to claw one of the breaks back.
But despite raising his level dramatically and fighting doggedly, Murray could not oust the Frenchman, who held his nerve to serve out the match.