(Reuters) - Defending Monte Carlo champion and world number one Novak Djokovic suffered his earliest tournament defeat for three years when 55th-ranked Czech Jiri Vesely beat him in the second round of the Masters tournament on Wednesday.
He lost 6-4 2-6 6-4 in what was the pair's first ever match.
Djokovic had tightened his iron grip on the sport in recent months, winning nine of his last 10 tournaments, with the only blemish in that run coming when he was forced to retire against Feliciano Lopez in Dubai due to an eye problem.
Wednesday's defeat was his earliest on the tour since he lost in the second round of the Madrid Open in 2013 and is a significant blip in his preparations for May's French Open, the only grand slam to have eluded the 11 times major winner.
The match was 22-year-old Vesely's first victory against a top-10 opponent after eight previous failures.
(Writing by Toby Davis; Editing by Louise Ireland)