Rome - The only two American men in the field at the ATP-WTA Rome Masters were both eliminated within a few hours of the start of play on Sunday, with Frenchman Richard Gasquet leading the way by beating Sam Querrey 6-2, 7-6 (10/8).
Uzbek Denis Istomin defeated John Isner 5-7, 7-6 (7/5), 6-3 on the clay of the Foro Italico as the once-dominant US continues to struggle badly in the modern game.
Gasquet needed just 90 minutes to advance into the second round, at the event where he reached the semi-finals in 2011.
The pair of American big hitters accounted for a mere 17 aces between them as they crashed out.
Querrey, a first-round loser in Madrid last week, now heads to the May 26 start of the French Open with two run-up matches and dim prospects on the clay.
In his only previous match with Gasquet, he beat the Frenchman on dirt at Monte Carlo five years ago.
French No 2 Gasquet won his 24th match of the season against seven losses and he already owns titles in Doha and Montpellier.
He next faces Grigor Dimitrov after the young Bulgarian defeated Marcos Baghdatis 6-3, 6-4.
Rome is the last major prior to Roland Garros will be a chance for tennis elites Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Andy Murray to put some polish on their games after all three failed to shine this week in Madrid.
Djokovic lost his opening Spanish match to Dimitrov, Federer went out in the third round against Kei Nishikori and Murray was stopped at the quarter-finals by Tomas Berdych.
Madrid champion Rafael Nadal, who won his fifth title of the season in Madrid on Sunday after playing in seven straight finals, remains a heavy title favourite after winning the Italian honours at six of the last eight editions.
Elsewhere, Alexandr Dolgopolov beat Italian Matteo Viola 6-4, 6-3 and South African Kevin Anderson crushed Austrian Jurgen Melzer 6-1, 6-2.
The women go into action on Monday.
Results on the first day of the ATP/WTA Rome Masters on Sunday (x denotes seeding):
Richard Gasquet (FRA x9) bt Sam Querrey (USA) 6-2, 7-6 (10/8)
Kevin Anderson (RSA) bt Jurgen Melzer (AUT) 6-1, 6-2
Alexandr Dolgopolov (UKR) bt Matteo Viola (ITA) 6-4, 6-3
Denis Istomin (UZB) bt John Isner (USA) 5-7, 7-6 (7/5), 6-3
Marcel Granollers (ESP) bt Nikolay Davydenko (RUS) 6-3, 6-4
Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) bt Marcos Baghdatis (CYP) 6-3, 6-4