Lucas Pouille, France’s top-ranked player, loses Monte Carlo opener

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Lucas Pouille has greater expectations on clay, but the 24-year-old took an early loss to Mischa Zverev in Monte Carlo. (AP)

While 11th-ranked Lucas Pouille has heightened ambitions on clay this season, he'll need to wait at least another week to potentially realize them. The 24-year-old lost his Monte Carlo opener to Mischa Zverev, 2-6, 6-1, 7-6 (3).

The serve-and-volleyer added to the top-ranked Frenchman’s misery at the ATP Masters 1000 tournament; Pouille also lost in doubles with Andrey Rublev, 6-1, 6-1, to Raven Klassen and Michael Venus.

Before the setbacks on clay, Pouille cited his maturity as a reason for his positive outlook.

“Well, I believe I have grown up a bit since last year. I was able to analyze what happened I am able to better manage all the moments,” Pouille told press at Monte Carlo. “I’m managing this a lot better. This can only help me.”

This season, Pouille has won Montpellier, beating fellow Frenchman Benoit Paire, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Richard Gasquet along the way, and reached finals at Marseille and Dubai.

HIGHLIGHTS: Pouille wins for France in 2017 Davis Cup final

In Davis Cup two weeks ago, Pouille won both matches against Italy on clay.

“I tried to change a little bit my preparation from last year,” said Pouille of his clay-court preparation. “The important thing is to build up confidence as much as possible in the previous tournaments, starting here, and then Budapest, then Rome. Of course, I am thinking about the French Open.”

Pouille, who trained with Roger Federer during the offseason, also said that he spoke to Federer about scheduling. While he can't skip as many tournaments as the 20-time Grand Slam champion, given Federer’s seniority on tour, he wants to limit the amount he plays. 

“You know that you can't play 28 tournaments a year, 28 weeks a year,” said Pouille. “It's too much if you want to be able to play for a long time in your career. It's always interesting to speak with these people.”

This Week on Tennis Channel Plus:

ATP Monte Carlo (4/15-4/22)
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-Tennis Channel Plus is your home for Fed Cup action! Watch live ties between USA vs. France and Germany vs. Czech Republic beginning at 6:00 AM ET on Saturday April 21

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