Holger Rune on Sunday blamed a nervous start and the relentless play of Daniil Medvedev for his 7-5, 7-5 loss in the Italian Open final.
The seventh-ranked Dane said he may also be feeling the pressure of two consecutive high-profile tests after reaching the final at the Foro Italico by beating world number one Casper Ruud in the semi- final on Saturday.
“I was very nervous going into the game,” he said.
“Maybe I put too many expectations on myself, even though I told myself I wasn’t.
The 20-year-old added: “Medvedev likes to grind. If he has a chance to grind, it will be long rallies.”
Despite his defeat, Rune remains a title contender for the French Open that will start in Paris next Sunday especially since 14-time champion Rafael Nadal is missing due to a hip injury.
“Paris is the main goal of the clay season. I think I have the matches that I need to be as well-prepared as possible,” said Rune who also stunned Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals in Rome.
Rune was runner-up at the Monte Carlo Masters and successfully defended his title in Munich earlier in the clay court season.
“Now it’s the last little things that I want to do better the next time I stay in these big games,” he said after missing the chance to win a second Masters title.