Qualifier Saketh Myneni gave a mighty scare to world number 49 Jiri Veseley before limping out of the US Open as leg spasms scuttled the Indian's hopes, in the first round of the men's singles in New York, on Monday.
Myneni, ranked 143 in the world, had a match point in the eighth game of the fifth set but stiffness in the right thigh restricted his movement badly and he was forced out 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-2, 2-6, 5-7 in a marathon first round match as the 28-year-old's first ever appearance in the singles draw of a Grand Slam ended in disappointment.
Myneni was clearly a better player on the court but fitness issues hampered him severely.
It brought back the memories of the Davis Cup tie against Korea last month in Chandigarh, where similar scenes were witnessed as both the Indian and the Koreans struggled to stand on court due to humid conditions.
After splitting four sets, Myneni broke the Czech in the fourth game to take a crucial 3-1 lead and led 4-2 in the fifth and final set. The match changed at that stage as Myneni took a medical time out due to issue in his right thigh but managed to hold for a 5-2 cushion.
However, from a commanding position, Myneni let the match slip through his graps as the injury restricted his movement. He surrendered serve twice after that as he hardly had the strength to stand.
An error-prone Vesely kept the hopes of the Indian alive but Myneni was unable to take advantage as he limped around the court, barely managing to stay.
Vesely just needed to keep the ball in play to close the contest after three hours and 47 minutes on Court No. 9.
Myneni had made it to the main draw after winning all the three matches in the qualifying event without dropping a set.
He is the first Indian since Yuki Bhambri, who featured in the 2015 and 2016 Australian Open first round, to make it to the main draw of a Grand Slam event.