Andy Roddick made a third-round exit from Wimbledon for the second year in a row as his challenge petered out at the hands of Spanish seventh seed David Ferrer.
Three times a Wimbledon runner-up, never the champion, Roddick will turn 30 during the US Open later this year and his days as a serious contender for grand slams may be behind him.
Yet for the best part of two sets on Centre Court, he gave Ferrer more than a fright, taking the one-sided opener after an immediate break of serve and then forcing a tie-break in the second.
At that stage 30th seed Roddick had only dropped his serve once, but gradually his performance began to tail off as Ferrer showed the form that brought him the grass-court title in 's-Hertogenbosch.
Roddick was also a title-winner last week, at Eastbourne, but once the tie-break got away from him the momentum was with Ferrer who sealed a 2-6 7-6 (10/8) 6-4 6-3 victory.Roddick, who blew a kiss to the crowd as he left the court, has not decided whether his career will extend into next season, answering "No" when asked whether he would be back at Wimbledon in a year's time.
""If I don't have a definitive answer in my own mind, it's going to be tough for me to articulate a definitive answer to you," he responded to a similar enquiry.
"Right now I'm thinking about the match," Roddick said. "I thought I played well.
"I feel better coming out of this tournament than I have in a little while."
And that gives him hope for the Olympic Games at Wimbledon next month, with matches being played in a best-of-three format.
The less distance he has to travel in matches, the more Roddick believes he can take on the best and win.
"I'm excited," he said. "Two out of three sets on grass is a crapshoot. Anything goes there.
"If I can maintain the form that I've had it's going to be uncomfortable (for an opponent). I don't think I'm going to be seeded. I don't know that that's going to be a comfortable round for anybody on this surface at this venue."
Roddick's slide down the world rankings - he is a former number one and has spent most of the last decade in the top 10 but stands 25th just now - has led to a change in his attitude.
He wants to show respectable form, and believes he is doing so.
"We're comparing it to 12 days ago when I told my team, 'Listen, all I want to do is just play good tennis again'," he said.
"Between last week and here I felt like we got to that point. It was a good match. My last eight matches dating back to last week have all been very, very positive, especially compared to what I was putting out there earlier this year."
Ferrer has reached the Wimbledon fourth round for the fourth time in his career, and the third successive year, but has never gone further.
He plays Juan Martin del Potro next and the Argentinian will have cause to be worried.
"I've been playing very well on grass courts last week and this week," Ferrer said.
"Today was a tough, tough match. A very close match. I played very consistent, very solid.
"I have great confidence because I won a tournament last week and my performance is good for the second week."