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Dan Evans at the French Open  - GETTY IMAGES

Dan Evans at the French Open – GETTY IMAGES

A bad-tempered Dan Evans suffered his third straight first-round loss at a major as he departed the French Open in four sets to world No 48 Miomir Kecmanovic, swearing and tossing rackets as he went.

Broadcasters were forced to apologise for Evans’ language as he struggled for traction on Paris’ red clay. He railed against chair umpire Jimmy Pinoargote, complained about unruly fans, and lambasted himself for leaving too many balls in inviting positions.

The defeat was all the more disappointing because Evans – the world No 27 – had made such an excellent start, moving to 5-0 in the first set before Kecmanovic was able to establish himself on the scoreboard.

But Kecmanovic, a Serbian 21-year-old, is a former world junior No 1. He found an ever-improving rhythm with his groundstokes, which carried more weight throughout than Evans’, while also dealing well with the touch-based exchanges at the front of the court. In the end, Kecmanovic came through by a 1-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 scoreline in three hours four minutes, and Evans will have to refocus on the grass-court season. It was a deflating end to a clay-court swing that had started so promisingly when he beat world No 1 Novak Djokovic in Monte Carlo and reached the semi-finals there to boot.

But Evans appears to be at his most vulnerable at the slams. Perhaps the nature of his game – which usually involves disrupting more powerful opponents with surprise net-rushes and dainty drop shots – is less effective over the long haul of a best-of-five-set match, as the tricks come to be more predictable every time he uses them.

Or perhaps there is a mental block developing here. It is true that he has not had a gimme of a first-round draw for a while, but then neither have the opponents who have overcome him in slams of late – Kecmanovic here, fellow Brit Cameron Norrie in Melbourne and France’s Corentin Moutet in New York last year – been huge names.

Even more alarmingly, this result means that it is still two years since a Briton won a match at Roland Garros, after the embarrassing tally of six first-round losses recorded in Paris last autumn.

Earlier the day, Naomi Osaka did give an interview after her 6-4, 7-6 victory over Romania’s Patricia Maria Tig, but it was a stilted affair conducted through masks on the court with the former French Davis Cup player Fabrice Santoro.

Osaka has announced that she will not be giving any press conferences in Paris because she believes they harm her mental health. This decision did not come up in the short chat with Santoro. Instead, she received a bouquet of flowers on behalf of her mother Tamaki, as today is Mother’s Day in France. “Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers,” said Osaka. “I hope you enjoy the other matches being played today. If I play more matches, then hopefully I will get better.”