British number one Johanna Konta suffered first-round disappointment at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Germany.
The 24-year-old from Eastbourne was defeated in straight sets by Anna-Lena Friedsam in just 77 minutes in Stuttgart.
Konta lost 6-3 6-3 to the German wildcard who, at world number 52, is 20 places below her in the world rankings.
It was her first match of the clay-court season and she can still look forward to the doubles, in which she will partner Laura Siegmund against Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic in the first round.
Konta arrived in Germany after practising for 10 days on the clay courts at the National Tennis Centre at Roehampton. She said, “The first match of the year on clay isn’t easy for anyone.
“I think she did a better job than I did dealing with the conditions. I’m happy I’m involved in doubles here. All the matches I can get on clay going into Roland Garros will be an added bonus.
“I just don’t think I did enough in terms of getting Anna-Lena out of her comfort zone. I think I need to give myself time and keep things in perspective. This was my first match on clay for nearly a year, so I need to go a little easy on myself and keep looking forward.”
She added: “On hard courts you grow used to generally playing shorter points and getting certain responses from certain shots that you hit – which may differ on a clay court because the ball obviously slows down a bit.
“More balls are always going to come back than would happen on a hard court. It’s just a question of adapting. You also get sore in different areas. My body is adjusting to the surface and the different movement that comes along with it.
“I think once you can find your bearings and are less like Bambi on ice the sooner you are able to play the kind of tennis that you need to on this surface. The better you are able to stay in the points the better you are able to set up for your shots.”
“I’ve had good results on clay in the past and I really enjoy it,” she said. “I keep maintaining that I don’t have a favourite surface.”
Konta’s schedule takes in Madrid and Rome before heading to the French Open, where she is expected to be seeded at a Grand Slam event for the first time.
But she admits that’s no guarenntee of success, “Like we saw today, Anna-Lena is No 52 in the world and I think it matters less and less where you are in the draw, because every player you’re going to encounter is going to be an incredibly tough challenge,” she said.
“That’s a wonderful aspect of our sport right now. The depth and the level within it is getting higher and higher. It’s great for women’s tennis to have such a level through the rankings.”