Casablanca:Local favorite Younes El Aynaoui, the only former champion in the Grand Prix Hassan II, lost his opening match to French qualifier Thierry Ascione 6-4, 6-3 on Tuesday.
El Aynaoui won a challenger in Marrakech at the weekend to prepare him for his 12th appearance in his hometown ATP event, but he could win only two of seven break points and lost his own serve four times.
The 35-year-old Moroccan won the title in 2002 and reached the final in 1993 and 2003.
Ascione qualified for his first ATP main draw this year, and the victory was his first on the main tour in 12 months.
All three leading seeds advanced; No 1 Dominik Hrbaty of Slovakia, No 2 Jose Acasuso of Argentina, and No 3 Julien Benneteau of France, who had the toughest time, taking almost 2 hours, 50 minutes to put down Portuguese qualifier Frederico Gil 7-6 (2), 3-6, 7-6 (5).
Hrbaty, runner-up three years ago in his last visit to Casablanca, beat Alexander Peya of Austria 7-6 (7), 6-4 and has a chance to reach his first quarterfinals of the year, and Acasuso defeated Nicolas Devilder of France 6-4, 6-4.
Last year's finalist, Nicolas Massu of Chile, defeated Sergio Roitman of Argentina 6-2, 6-3, and eighth-seeded Paul-Henri Mathieu of France topped Kristian Pless of Denmark 6-3, 6-1.