Benoit Paire risks punishment after seemingly displaying a lack of effort in a tame loss to Jannik Sinner in the first round of the Rome Masters.

The world No 24 criticised the organisers of the tournament after he was scheduled to play on Monday rather than Tuesday, having been in isolation following a positive Covid-19 test in New York.

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He looked frustrated throughout the 65-minute defeat to Sinner, tossing his racquet into the air several times, exchanging verbals with the umpire and smashing a water bottle off the court.

He then finished by smacking the ball into the net in the final game and not bothering to run down a shot on match point.

“I had not played in 10 days, staying in my room,” he said afterwards. “It was a good training, I’m happy I played one hour. I even played one hour and four minutes. I’m happy I hung on for an hour and four. I gave what I could. Jannik played very well.

“The result does not really matter. I still have the doubles. I will try to entertain myself with Nico (Nicolas Mahut) and try to win a match.”

Players can be fined for a lack of effort during a match.

Kei Nishikori won his first match in over a year as he beat Albert Ramos-Vinolas in straight sets.

The world No 35, who had elbow surgery in October 2019 and tested positive for Covid-19 last month, won 6-4, 7-6(3).

Kei Nishikori in action at the Rome Masters

Image credit: Getty Images

The win is Nishikori’s first since August 2019 and he will next face Stan Wawrinka or Lorenzo Musetti.

"Very happy,” said Nishikori. “The win is the most important thing at the moment. I need confidence and matches. It was not perfect yet, but one by one I get better."

British No 1 Dan Evans was beaten in three sets by Hubert Hurkacz.

Evans fought back after dropping the opener but lost 3-6 6-3 5-7.

Grigor Dimitrov won 7-5 6-1 against Gianluca Mager while Filip Krajinovic beat Felix Auger-Aliassime in straight sets.

In the women's draw, Belgian 11th seed Elise Mertens moved into the second round with a straightforward 6-3 6-1 victory over Hsieh Su-wei while 21-year-old Elena Rybakina beat Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-0 6-4 in just 61 minutes.

Ukraine's Dayana Yastremska overcame home favourite Camila Giorgi 7-5 6-7(5) 6-4 in a match where both players struggled with their first serve, with 28 double faults recorded in the contest.

Donna Vekic, the 16th seed, was ousted by Amanda Anisimova after losing two tiebreaks in a match where both players were broken five times, with the American eventually coming away with a 7-6(4) 7-6(6) win.

Additional reporting from Reuters

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