Mardy Fish faced down heart problems and crippling anxiety attacks but in the end it was a humble spot of cramping which brought his career to an end.
The 33-year-old American, who has played just a handful of tournaments in the last three years and seen his ranking slip to 581, had already said that his 13th US Open would be his last event.
But at one stage on Wednesday, it appeared he wasn’t going to go quietly as he served for the match at 5-4 in the fourth set against Feliciao Lopez only to sink 2-6 6-3 1-6 7-5 6-3 to the 18th-seeded Spanish left-hander after struggling to walk in the intense heat.
“He was the better player and deserved to win this match. I was very lucky,” said Lopez after the 3hr 11min encounter.
“It’s very sad what has happened to him with his illness in recent years. We played many times and he was often the better player.”
Fish once reached No.7 in the world, won six career titles and made the quarter-finals three times at the majors, including the 2008 US Open.
But in 2012, his world imploded after he underwent a procedure to correct a heartbeat irregularity.
Then, at the US Open, where he was the 23rd seed, he was set to face Roger Federer in the fourth round but was forced to withdraw for health reasons.
It was then that Fish realised he was dealing with a problem which affects millions of people around the world.
The Anxiety Disorders Association of America estimates that 3.3 million adults in the US suffer from the disorder that decimated Fish’s career.
Fish said he was desperate to help fellow sufferers in general as well as other tennis players.
“There are tens of millions of Americans that deal with it on a daily basis. There’s a ton of guys in the locker room I’m sure that have trouble with it from whatever level it is,” he said.
“I have spoken to some … about it privately. Maybe they are just not comfortable with cameras on them talking about it.
“But I’m to the point now where, yes, it helped me and it helps me to talk about it … I want to share my story so I can help.”