A "devastated" Nick Kyrgios has waved farewell at Wimbledon to a standing ovation after losing his battle with injury - but he reckons he's won legions of new fans after completing his journey from "bad boy" to showcourt darling.
Kyrgios suffered an "acute" abdominal problem that flared up during his last-32 match on Saturday, reducing his monster serve to half-pace against the brilliant young Canadian Felix Auger Aliassime and forcing him to quit in pain at one set-all.
After losing the second set with the match then tied at 6-2 1-6, he called for the trainer a second time, shrugged that he couldn't go on and shook hands forlornly with his opponent after 56 minutes.
Yet Kyrgios, drowned by sympathetic applause from the fans, told them on court: "Having this support has kind of made me maybe have a second wind - I'm gonna come back and play for a bit longer."
He was, he admitted later, "devastated" at the end of his latest odyssey.
"I'm enjoying myself. Going from the bad boy of tennis, all this stuff, to now one of the crowd favourites," he said.
"I knew they wanted me to keep playing. I tried to give everything I absolutely could.
"But I knew the more I served, the worse it was getting. It was heartbreaking for me.
"I told the crowd it was the end of the road. It was a journey.
"I honestly thought the way I was playing I could have done some pretty cool things this week. It was tough to leave that crowd."
He admitted it also didn't look possible to continue his mixed doubles partnership with Venus Williams either, reckoning it would "heartbreaking" to have to tell the 41-year-old legend.
"She obviously won't be too happy about it too. She doesn't know how many Wimbledons maybe she's going to play again," he said.
The 26-year-old - in his first tournament after a five-month competitive absence - had said beforehand he would be competing in pain.
He began as only Kyrgios can, admitting that he'd forgotten to bring his tennis shoes to the court - which forced organisers to collect them from the bubble for him.
"For one day, I thought I was being professional, you know...," Kyrgios laughed.
But once he'd found his feet, he blitzed the first set and felt he was dominating until he felt injury strike in the sixth game.
"I felt it specifically 4-1, 15-all. I hit a first serve and I felt a strain towards my left abdominal," he said.
"Then at 30-15 I hit a wide serve. As soon as I served, I felt an acute pain. I knew I was in a bit of trouble.
"That's just the way it goes sometimes. Like, it's funny because I woke up today feeling phenomenal.
"My hips felt good, my body felt good. I was like, 'wow, I'm back, I'm feeling good'. The luck just didn't go my way."
In the second set, his devastating serve had effectively been neutered, allowing the 20-year-old prospect to start making huge inroads on the returns as he eventually took the stanza 6-1.
"He's a hell of a player and he's going to do some special things in this sport," Kyrgios told his fans.
"You'll see more of him in the future - and he's better looking than me too!"