Tim Henman put in a battling display before his Grand Slam career came to an end with a 7-6 2-6 7-5 6-4 defeat to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at the US Open.
Henman made his Grand Slam farewell in the second round
The 32-year-old Briton displayed some of his trademark touch at the net and raised hopes of another improbable win after dominating the second set.
But Frenchman Tsonga, 22, put Henman under increasing pressure with some magnificent serving.
Henman saved one match point at 3-5 but Tsonga kept his cool to seal victory.
"He played too good for me," admitted Henman.
"I've had a fantastic career. Playing in front of crowds like this make it so special to the players and that's something I'll miss.
"Relief is not quite the right word but I am ready to get on with the next part of my life."
The Briton will make his final farewell to tennis at Britain's Davis Cup tie against Croatia, which begins on 21 September at Wimbledon.
His final Grand Slam match encapsulated why he has decided to call time on his 14-year career.
Henman showed all the craft and guile he has become renowned for - but Tsonga, nicknamed 'Ali' by his fellow players, was simply too powerful and too athletic.
The British number two produced a dazzling cross-court pass to break for a 5-4 lead in the first set, but as so often in his career, his serve let him down.
Tsonga broke straight back and once Henman had become rattled by a dispute with the umpire early in the tiebreak, the Frenchman was able to race through it 7-2.
The second set went with serve until 3-2 when Tsonga suddenly lost his form and Henman broke to love.
Tsonga's serving put increasing pressure on Henman
Though Henman broke again to level the match, it was not to prove a turning point.
In a high-quality third set, Henman did well to stay with Tsonga, who landed an astonishing 81% of his first serves.
But the pressure eventually told at 6-5 and Tsonga took the set with a delicious drop volley of which Henman would have been proud.
Once Henman dropped serve again at 2-2 in the fourth set, there appeared little hope of a comeback and so it proved.
The former world number four did at least save a match point with a bold second serve which landed on the back of the line.
But Tsonga kept his nerve brilliantly in a highly-charged atmosphere, completing victory with his 10th ace of the day.