- Gilles Simon - tennis
AFP - French hopes took a huge hit on Tuesday as sixth seed Gilles Simon and aching Gael Monfils went down to defeat in a horror start for the nation at the Monte Carlo Masters.
After little more than two days of play, France has suffered four losses, with Simon exiting his opening match in the second round 7-5, 6-1 against unfancied Andreas Beck.
The 89th-ranked German qualifier was playing on the ATP level for the first time since the Australian Open in January, where he went out in the second round.
Joining last year's breakthrough player at the exits was ninth-seed Monfils, whose first-round start ended 6-3, 6-1 in favour of Serb Janko Tipsarevic.
Monfils lost an early 3-1 lead as he played his debut clay date with his fragile knees heavily strapped.
"I needed to get used to them," said the 22-year-old who has trimmed his trademark dreadlocks.
"There's not much to say about the match, I'm just trying to get used to clay court conditions. I need to work more with (coach) Roger (Rasheed) and then confidence will come back.
"The strappings keep my knees very tight. I have pain when I take them off. In fact, my knees hurt when I climb stairs. And on the left knee, I have a big bump," said Monfils of his precarious physical condition.
Against Beck, Simon could do little, even as the nervous German double-faulted seven times on another sunny day on the French Riveria.
The French seed lost serve six times in the 100-minute contest to drop his season record to 14-10 with a 2-4 mark in the principality.
Monaco's wild card Jean-Rene Lisnard made up for at least some of the damage as the French-born number 263 advanced over Belgian Christophe Rochus 6-2, 6-2.
Andy Murray was making his start against Romanian Victor Hanescu while Roger Federer was scheduled to appear in public for the first time after his weekend marriage as the three-time finalist prepares for his Wednesday opener against Italian Andreas Seppi.