There was a time when Greg Rusedski was the most fearsome server in tennis.
Not any more. Last evening, with the scoreboard lights twinkling and the clock striking 9.12pm, Rusedski departed Wimbledon at the second-round stage for the third time in three years, outgunned on the Centre Court gloom by Sweden's Joachim Johansson.
The scoreboard told the tightest tale, 7-6 (12/10), 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7/5), to the 22-yearold in the white bandana who stands 6ft 6in and punches every inch of his height.
But, after a fourth-set tiebreak fought out in near darkness which the Swede took 7-5, you had to admire the courage of the Montrealborn star who adopted the British flag ten years ago.
The line judges were required to bob and weave like middleweight boxers to avoid the hail of aces which came their way, regularly registering about 140mph on the radar gun.
It was tense, dramatic, at times thrilling. It was never pretty. Indeed, with rallies of more than five strokes at a premium it was a good advert for why the All England Club have slowed down the courts and the balls in recent years.
But for all Rusedski's guts to slug it out with a man eight years his junior it was a desperate disappointment.
Rusedski had only once won successive matches in regular tournaments in 2005, at Queen's when he reached the third round. His only Wimbledon quarter-final appearance was in 1997.
Johansson, the US open semi-finalist, smashed three aces in his first service game. He held the aces record of 51 in a match until it was equalled by Croatia's Ivo Karlovic on Tuesday.
Inevitably, the first set went to a tie-break. The 22-year-old Johansson took it 12-10 on his fifth set point when he crashed down his ninth ace.
It might have gone either way. But Rusedski had played well. The way he set about his work in the second set spoke volumes for his mental toughness.
It was a case of grinding out the service games and waiting for his chance. His resilience was admirable, his groundstrokes solid and his volleys at times inspired. In the seventh game he converted a break point on the Johansson serve.
He broke the next Johansson service as well to clinch the second set and level the match.
But Rusedski's serve came under increasing pressure in the third set as the Swede's powerful groundstrokes began to take their toll. It had lost its earlier zip and finally cracked in the seventh game, two Rusedski double faults handing Johansson the crucial break.
The Swede, despite throwing in a sixth double fault, crashed down his 12th ace to take the set and control of the match.
Rusedski, in the gathering gloom, was resorting to chip and charge tactics, often with good effect. The set went to a tie-break after referee Alan Mills walked on to tell the players to finish the set.
One more powerful Johansson forehand was the difference and Rusedski's challenge, gutsy though it was, was over.
Roger Federer extended his winning streak on grass to 31 matches with victory over Ivo Minar.
The defending champion struggled to find his rhythm in the first two sets but won 6-4, 6-4, 6-1 in one hour 22 minutes on Court One.
Lleyton Hewitt, the former champion, battled through a tough four-set clash with Czech
Jan Hernych to book a place in the third round. The world No 66 briefly threatened an upset before Hewitt won 6-2, 7-5, 3-6, 6-3.
The Australian has a thirdround clash with Justin Gimelstob. Hewitt mixed up his typical baseline play with aplomb and also hit 15 aces.
Eighth seed Nikolay Davydenko had to retire hurt against Sweden's Jonas Bjorkman. The Russian 24-year-old was leading 7-6, 2-1 when he was forced to quit with a wrist injury.
Former French Open champion Juan Carlos Ferrero had an epic 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 win over Hyung-Taik Lee, of Korea. Ferrero is seeded 23 after missing much of last year due to illness and injury.
Unseeded American Gimelstob overcame 29th seeded Chilean, Nicolas Massu, 6-3, 4-6, 7-6, 7-6 while Gimelstob's compatriot Taylor Dent beat Kevin Kim 6-3, 6-4, 6-4.
Frenchman Sebastien Grosjean had a marathon 3-6, 7-5, 4-6, 7-6, 6-4 victory over compatriot Michael Llodra in a first-round match held over.