Andy Murray laid his emotions bare on Wimbledon's Centre Court as another Grand Slam dream ended in tears.
The 25-year-old went into Sunday's final against Roger Federer with history in his sights, bidding to win his first grand slam title and become the first British men's singles champion at Wimbledon since Fred Perry in 1936.
Murray was the first home player even to reach the final for 74 years, but he could not build on a great start and it was Federer who triumphed 4-6 7-5 6-3 6-4 to win his seventh Wimbledon title and ensure he will be ranked number one on Monday.
Murray has now joined his coach, Ivan Lendl, in losing his first four grand slam finals, and the emotion of the moment showed in a halting and tearful on-court interview.
"I'm getting closer," he said, as his voice started breaking.
He stepped away from the microphone for a minute before returning to say: "I'm gonna try. This is not going to be easy. Firstly I'd like to congratulate Roger.
"I was asked the other day, 'Is this your best chance, Roger is 30 now?'.
"He's not bad for a 30-year-old. He played a great tournament. I know he had some struggles with his back, but he showed what fight he had. He deserves it.
"I'll try not to look at him as I'll start (crying) again. Thanks to everyone who has supported me. You did a great job. It's always tough."
The two players embraced afterwards, and Murray later explained he had apologised for his weeping.
There were tears of joy after his semi-final win over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, but on this occasion they were of despair.
"I just said to Roger, 'Sorry'. I didn't want that to happen. It's like you're attention-seeking or something. It was not like that at all," Murray said.
"And I knew it before, because they asked me if I wanted to do the interview. I knew it was going to be hard because I just felt it. I didn't know if I wanted to do it, but I tried.
"I've seen Roger do the same thing a couple times before, so he kind of knows what it's like.
"He just laughed. He said, 'This is meant to be the easy part', doing the speeches after the match. But sometimes it feels quite hard compared with playing a tennis match."
Murray had played three previous Grand Slam finals, losing to Federer in the US Open in 2008 and the Australian Open in 2010, while he was also beaten by Novak Djokovic in Melbourne last year.
In all those matches he failed to win even a set, and, particularly in the defeat by Djokovic, did not play anything approaching his best tennis.
It was a very different story on Sunday, with Murray certainly the better player in the first set and also until the closing games of the second, and it needed Federer at his best to deny him.
The Scot said: "I'd say that's the best I've played in a slam final. I created chances, I went up a set.
"It was a long match. Even the last two sets, I still had chances. The game where I got broken in the third set was a very, very long game. I had a lot of game points."
Indeed it lasted almost 20 minutes and Federer emerged from it with a 4-2 lead.
"It wasn't like I gave away bad games or stupid games and stuff," Murray said. "I played a good match. I made pretty good decisions for the most part, so I'm happy with that.
"I felt more comfortable this morning and before the match than I had done maybe in the previous slams."
Murray made the perfect start by breaking in the opening game of the match, playing the aggressive tennis his critics have long demanded of him in the biggest matches.
Federer levelled at 2-2 but Murray dug in, saving two break points for 4-4 and then breaking on his way to the first set.
The second was in many ways the key to the match, with Murray having four chances to force a break but not managing to do so, and Federer stepped up in devastating fashion to break in the 12th game and make it one set all.
After two games of the third set the heavens opened and the roof was closed, and Federer played better and better.
He broke to lead in that 19-minute game which could have gone either way, and then made his move at the same stage of the fourth set, before clinching victory after three hours and 24 minutes when Murray hit a return just wide.
Murray said: "When we came out after the break he was more aggressive on my serve. I maybe didn't serve as well under the roof as I did the first couple of sets.
"The second set I had some chances and I didn't quite get them. Matches often change over a couple of points here and there. Maybe if I got the break in the second set it could have been different, or not got broken from 30-0 up at 6-5.
"After the break he was a bit more aggressive. And because he has excellent timing, when there's no wind under the roof, he times the ball very, very well. He was able to go for his shots a bit more."
It was Federer's first Grand Slam title since beating Murray in Melbourne in 2010, and he joined Rod Laver and Arthur Ashe in winning at Wimbledon past his 30th birthday.
There has been much debate about whether the Swiss would ever reach these heights again, but Murray felt Federer was never far away from the 17th Grand Slam title he achieved on Sunday.
"He's still playing amazing tennis," said the world number four. "A lot of people have been asking me, 'Has he started slipping? Is he not playing as well?'.
"If you look at the grand slam matches he lost the last couple years, they were very, very close matches, matches he definitely could have won.
"He could be sitting on 20 grand slams but for one point or a couple of inches here or there. I don't think you get to number one unless you deserve it. It's a great, great week for him."
Federer had some kind words for Murray, saying: "He's done so well over the years and it (his tears) shows he cares so dearly about his tennis. He will win one grand slam at least. I hope so."
Of himself, Federer added: "I think I have played some of my best tennis in the last two matches. It's worked out here that I have played my best tennis in the semis and the final. I couldn't be more happy. It feels so familiar (to win) and it's a great moment."
His seventh Wimbledon title not only elevates him back to the top of the world rankings, but draws him level with the number of titles the great Pete Sampras won at the All England Club.
"It's amazing," Federer said. "It equals me with Pete who is my hero, and the world number one, they don't get gifted to you."