That it ended the way it did was somewhat fitting.
Lleyton Hewitt fought and fought, battled a thigh injury and provided some controversy in a straight-sets loss to David Ferrer at the Australian Open.
The two-time grand slam champion showed some of his trademark scampering and desperation, but missed his chances in a 6-2 6-4 6-4 loss.
That he won just 10 games was perhaps unfair, but winning one of 10 break points was decisive.
Hewitt, 34, needed treatment on an injured thigh, yet that only mattered at the change of ends.
His focus was purely on the next point, and he believed until the end against the world number eight.
He produced uplifting passes from the back of the court and continued to give the Rod Laver Arena crowd hope.
But Hewitt's service games were a battle and Ferrer punished him when he had the chances.
There was some controversy late as the Australian reacted angrily to being called for foot faults, both to chair umpire Pascal Maria and the linesperson.
The only things missing on Thursday night were two more sets, and a Hewitt win - given he won more matches than he lost when they went the distance.
He helped change the way the sport was played, thanks to his tenacity and fight and ball striking from the baseline.
"I guess guys playing from the back of the court obviously started believing once they saw that I was able to do it, especially on all surfaces," Hewitt said after his loss to Ferrer.
"It was really kind of the total changing of how tennis was played in a lot of ways, especially on grass.
"Apart from the likes of especially [Andre] Agassi in '92, there wasn't a lot of guys that would stay back and play from the back of the court.
"I think in that, a lot of guys learnt or believed that they could do it playing that way. That was probably my biggest thing.
"Obviously I think the other guys came in, and Roger [Federer] and that took it to a totally new level."
Hewitt's last competitive singles match had it all as he deservedly bowed out a champion in front of his home fans.