Sumit Nagal made a losing start to his season as he lost 2-6, 2-6 to Ricardas Berankis from Lithuania at the Murray River Open ATP 250 event.
In his six attempts, Nagal is yet to win a main draw match at an ATP Tour event.
Berankis was on top of his game from the onset as he comfortable prevailed over his Indian rival. The World No. 72 collected four break points in the first set and seven in the second to stamp his authority on the opening round clash.
The World No. 139, meanwhile, bagged 57% points in the first serve in comparison to Berankis' 81 per cent.
Nagal, thus, will head to the Australian Open main draw with just an hour of competitive tennis under his belt.
He qualified for the Australian Open through a wild card. It will be his third appearance in a Grand Slam main draw. He was knocked out in the first qualifying rounds of the Australian Open in 2018 and 2020.
The Jhajjar-born player, however, made headlines during his debut Grand Slam appearance in 2019 as he took a set off Swiss legend Roger Federer at the US Open. In 2020, at the Flushing Meadows, he also became the first Indian to win a round at a Grand Slam in seven years when he beat American Bradley Klahn in his US Open first round.
However, the Australian Open which gets underway from February 28, will be a fresh new challenge for the 23-year-old.