Roger Federer concedes that adding a record 21st grand slam singles title at the French Open is an unrealistic prospect, in a sobering admission ahead of the year's second major.
Federer's return to his home event in Geneva didn't go as many might have expected as the Swiss maestro was bundled out 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 against Spanish clay court specialist Pablo Andujar.
The 39-year-old tentatively returned to the courts in Doha in March, having been out for more than a year following two knee surgeries, winning his first match before losing his second.
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The 20-time Grand Slam champion was hoping to find some form on the Geneva clay but tumbled at the first hurdle in his first defeat on home soil in seven and a half years.
Federer would have been hoping to get some more match preparation under his belt before the French Open gets underway at the end of the month, but he says anyone who thought he may have been in contention for the title at Roland Garros was simply "wrong".
A record holder with eight Wimbledon titles, Federer says the "season starts on the grass" for him, and building towards that is his ultimate priority.
"What's important is the next few weeks, regardless if you play tournaments or not, it's if you're back on the tour, practising with top guys, going through the rhythm. This is how you then start taking better decisions."
Federer admits he needs to go back to the drawing board after his first match in two months ended in disappointment against Andujar.
"It's good to be back on the court but then you lose a match like this and you're down," Federer added.
"I know my limitations at the moment.
"People expect a lot from me and I have high expectations for myself. So when I walk out of a match and feel I could have played so much better, it feels strange and it's disappointing."
The task for Federer now is to identify where his game is going wrong and formulate ways to fix it, ahead of a busy upcoming schedule that includes the two majors, as well as the Tokyo Olympic Games.
"This is the process I need to go through. I can't get too down on myself," he said.
"I need to go back to the drawing board and talk to the team and say 'what's the plan here for the next 10 days?'.
"What did they see from the outside that maybe I didn't see and feel? There's going to be a lot of conversations."
The World No.8 was cheered on by a few dozen masked spectators dotted around the Eaux-Vives centre court, with the attendance limited due to local coronavirus restrictions.
The top seed took time to find his groove against the world number 75, who has four clay court titles to his name.
Federer admits his 'game wasn't there'
In the second set, Federer began to show flashes of the old magic, throwing in occasional backhand drop shots.
At 4-3 up in the final set he lost his serve and though he saved two match points, he misfired to hand his opponent victory.
"I really struggled early on to find my rhythm from the baseline," Federer said.
"The moment it was getting tougher, the game wasn't there. I was missing way too much to come through. The chances were all there; I just couldn't come up with the goods.
"It's so brutal sometimes but I feel like I didn't deserve it at the end. There was just not enough happening in my game.
"I couldn't protect my serve in different ways, I couldn't break in different ways. I was a bit limited on the court. When you start to play in two minds, it gets very difficult.
"I've just got to accept it and move on."
Former world number one Federer went into the contest with a 32-match winning streak on home soil.
His last loss in Switzerland was in October 2013 in his home city of Basel against Juan Martin del Potro.
Andujar will face either Marton Fucsovics, the 2018 Geneva winner, or Swiss teenager Dominic Stricker, the 2020 French Open boys' champion, in the quarter-finals.
Stricker stunned the 2014 US Open winner and world number 46 Marin Cilic 7-6 (7/5), 6-1 in the first round on Tuesday in what was the 18-year-old wildcard's first senior match on the ATP tour.
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