Soweto - Ruan Roelofse put up a brave challenge in the opening round of the Soweto Open on Tuesday, but it was not enough as he ultimately went down 7-6 (7/4), 3-6, 4-6 to second-seeded American Rajeev Ram.
The South African Davis cup player, ranked 502nd by the ATP, dug deep to force the first set to a tie-break and take the early lead against the world No 111.
Ram, however, fought back to clinch a spot in the second round of the ATP Challenger Tour event.
“It was tough playing the second seed in the first round,” Roelofse said.
“I played a good match, a good first set, played the big points really well in the beginning, but in the end it was two bad service games from my part that made the difference.
“I lost concentration a bit in the second set and that gave him a chance, and a player like that will take advantage of the one mistake you make.”
Roelofse was part of the SA Davis Cup team that went down 3-1 to Poland earlier this month and the 23-year-old said he took a lot from that experience.
“Being part of the Davis Cup team helped me tremendously because I played Jerzy Janowicz, a No 24 ranked player, if I’m not mistaken,” he said.
“I also played other top-ranked players and took sets with them as well, which means I can play with the top 100 ranked players in the world.
"That's helped me a lot and gave me confidence going into this match.”
In other first-round matches, Brazilian Andre Ghem edged out South African Keith-Patrick Crowley, winning the match 6-4, 7-5, while Michal Konecny beat Gregoire Burquier in three sets to win 6-2, 4-6, 6-2.
Top seed Lukas Lacko of Slovakia booked a second-round clash against Konecny after defeating Ricardo Hocevar 6-4, 6-2.
Results on the second day of the Soweto Open men’s tournament at the Arthur Ashe tennis centre in Jabavu on Tuesday:
Andre Ghem (BRA) bt Keith-Patrick Crowley (RSA) 6-4, 7-5
Mate Pavic (CRO) bt Prakash Amritraj (IND) 6-7 (4/7), 6-4, 6-4
Michal Konecny (CZE) bt Gregoire Burquier (FRA) 6-2, 4-6, 6-2
Rajeev Ram  (USA) bt Ruan Roelofse (RSA) 6-7 (4/7), 6-3, 6-4
Marcelo Demoliner (BRA) bt Tucker Vorster (RSA) 4-6, 7-6 (7/2), 7-6 (7/4)
Thiago Alves  (BRA) bt Rafael Camilo (BRA) 7-5, 6-3
Lukas Lacko  (SVK) bt Ricardo Hocevar (BRA) 6-4, 6-2
Dean O’Brien (RSA) bt Goran Tosic (MNE) 6-1, 7-6 (8/6)
Stefan Seifert (GER) bt Thales Turini (BRA) 6-3, 6-4
Rik de Voest (RSA)/Marcelo Demoliner  (BRA) bt Francois Kellerman (RSA)/Okkie Kellerman (RSA) 6-0, 6,2
Purav Raja (IND)/Divij Sharan  (IND) bt Jean Andersen (RSA)/Ruan Roelofse (RSA) 6-3, 6-4
Michal Przysiezny (POL)/Denis Zivkovic (USA) bt Dustin Brown (GER)/James Cluskey  (IRL) 6-3, 7-6 (8/6)