Sharath Kamal took a game off the legendary Ma Long, the reigning Olympic and World champion, before making a third-round exit from the table tennis competition at the Tokyo Games on Tuesday.
The Indian paddler fought tooth and nail to take the second game from Long but eventually lost 7-11, 11-8, 11-13, 4-11, 4-11 in 46 minutes.
Following the defeat, India's challenge at the Games in table tennis ended.
Manika Batra, Sutirtha Mukherjee and G Stahiyan exited the singles competition earlier.
"It was the best three games and probably the best match and best tournament I ever played," declared Sharath after the match.
The Chinese great too acknowledged that Sharath made it tough for him.
"It was a tough match. Of course, at the Olympics every match, no matter the opponent, no matter the country; it's always tough," said Long.
"I did prepare for difficulties. The third game was crucial. After gutting it out the last two games were better," he added.
After losing a close first game, Sharath took a 7-3 lead in the second with some perfectly placed forehands, and was also helped by some errors by Long.
The Chinese legend soon reduced the margin by taking five straight points, inducing backhand errors from the Indian.
A crushing forehand winner after a short rally gave Sharath a chance to close the second game and he sealed it with a slap shot.
Sharath responded extremely well to the balls hit close to his body to lead 4-2 in the third but Long took four consecutive points to snatch the lead.
A backhand error from Sharath at 8-8 gave Long the advantage but the Indian did not let him close out the game easily. The Chinese took a time out while leading 12-11 and came back to seal the third game and take a 2-1 lead.
A flurry of errors from Sharath and some better hitting from Long put the Indian behind 0-6, a lead from where a comeback was not easy against a player of Long's calibre.
From an intense contest, it suddenly became a drab, one-sided affair with Sharath struggling to keep pace with Long.