World number four Andy Murray lost to Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on his return from a back surgery he underwent in September.
The 26-year-old Briton lost 7-5, 6-3 to Tsonga in the Mubadala World Tennis Championships on Thursday.
It was his first game since Britain’s Davis Cup World Group playoff win over Croatia in September.
He will now face Swiss number eight Stanislas Wawrinka in the fifth-placed play-off on Friday.
“I moved well in the first set [against Tsonga], especially once I got into the rallies,” he told The National newspaper.
“I didn’t feel slow at all. In the second I slowed down slightly, but that’s something that is going to get better by playing matches.
“I can’t expect to feel great for long periods of matches straightaway.
“But it was a good workout. You want to play your best, but you need to be realistic and patient.”
Tsonga, 28, who next faces Novak Djokovic on Friday, said: “It’s not often I take two sets off Andy, even in practice.”
In the other match, Spaniard David Ferrer beat Wawrinka 7-5, 6-1 to set up a meeting with world number one Rafael Nadal.