Tim Henman's Australian Open challenge was ended at the first hurdle by his Wimbledon conqueror Dmitry Tursunov.
Henman won the first set and after losing the next two, led 5-1 in the fourth before losing six straight games to crumble to a 7-5 3-6 4-6 5-7 defeat.
Henman was broken early in the first set but hit back with two breaks of his own to draw first blood.
Big-hitting Tursunov then took charge but Henman seemed to have forced him into a fifth set before folding.
Both players have reputations for tensing up under pressure and they both demonstrated it Melbourne on Monday.
Tursunov, with his huge forehand in good working order, looked certain to win the first set before tightening up and letting Henman in.
But the Englishman failed to take advantage, being broken in the first game of the second set.
The two players traded breaks of serve before Tursunov's weight of shot helped him level the match.
Both players began to serve better in the third set but Henman, after breaking to lead 4-3, proceeded to fall apart and Tursunov took full advantage.
Henman started the fourth set far better than his Russian opponent and rapidly claimed a 5-1 lead.
He had two chances to serve for the set and level the match but was broken both times.
And his limp display in the final minutes suggested his collapse was as much down to a lack of belief as Tursunov's bludgeoning ground strokes.
Afterwards Henman said he was not considering his future in the game at the moment and that he was hoping to have a successful 2006.
"I'm disappointed but when you are a top sportsman you are always going to be disappointed when you lose," he told BBC Sport.
"I will judge myself on how the whole year goes and not just a month.
"I still love what I do and there are still plenty of challenges out there. Last year was such a difficult one and I struggled for motivation but I feel enthused with my tennis again and I want to have a good year this year."
However Henman added that if things did not go his way this year then he may consider his long-term future at the end of 2006.
"I'm going to do all the right things. Then, at the end of the year, if I feel like I've done all the right things and I'm not satisfied with that level, then I would sort of have to think long and hard about it. But, right now, it's not in my thoughts."