Roger Federer’s form dropped drastically after an easy first set, and the top-ranked player lost to Ernests Gulbis of Latvia 2-6, 6-1, 7-5 on Tuesday in his opening match of the clay-court season.

It was Federer’s first singles match in nearly a month. He took off several weeks after losing to Tomas Berdych in the fourth round of the Sony Ericsson Open in Key Biscayne, Florida, on March 30.

The 40th-ranked Gulbis fought off nerves at the end and finally closed out the match on his seventh match point.

Federer struggled with his consistency under a light rain as the match with Gulbis wore on.

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