Rotterdam, Netherlands, 12 February 2013 | AFP

Bernard Tomic suffered defeat at the hands of a key rival in his return to the ATP Tour after a break following his brilliant Australian summer.

The 20-year-old Australian lost 6-3 3-6 6-3 to Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov in the first round of the Rotterdam World Tennis tournament on Monday, a first meeting between two of the best up-and-coming talents in the sport.

It was a reality check for world No.45 Tomic, who made a scintillating start to the year after a listless end to 2012, notching a win over world No.1 Novak Djokovic at the Hopman Cup in Perth, winning his first ATP Tour title in Sydney then reaching the third round of the Australian Open before falling to Roger Federer.

Ranked No.41, Brisbane International runner-up Dimitrov’s dominant serve set the platform for his 93-minute win to book a clash with Nikolay Davydenko.

“I think it was a pretty fair match from both of us,” said Dimitrov.

“We both struggled at the beginning of the match. In the first set, he was trying to find his rhythm, and then he got into the match. At the end, I had a couple of good returns in the third set and afterwards, I served it out.”

Tomic is entered into next week’s Open 13 in Marseille, France, but missed the tournament’s main draw ranking cut-off given he was ranked outside the top 60 when tournament entries were accepted several weeks ago.

He must hope for a wildcard or successful passage through the qualifying draw if he is to contest the ATP 250 event.