World No.1 Ash Barty has made a concerning admission about the injury that forced her to withdraw from the French Open.
The Aussie admitted it had been "brutal" and "tough to accept" that her dazzling clay-court season ended in such anti-climax on Court Philippe-Chatrier, having to retire with injury at the very scene of her greatest triumph two years ago.
Barty was in obvious discomfort during her first round win, where she required treatment on a hip injury and had one leg heavily strapped.
In the second round against Poland's Magda Linette, the Aussie was trailing 6-1 2-2 before deciding it was "unsafe" to carry on and possibly exacerbate an injury that had left her a shadow of her usually dynamic self.
With Wimbledon less than four weeks away, the real concern for Barty is that she doesn't really know what the injury is and admits that even her physio hasn't seen too many issues like it in the past.
"It's a completely new injury, and something that I've never experienced before," said Barty, who reckoned the hip problem had made it hugely difficult to both serve with her usual sharpness and move fluently without pain.
"Even chatting with my physio, not something she has seen regularly either," Barty said.
"So we've been consulting with people all over the world to try and give us some insight into what the best ways to manage it are, to handle it, and I'm confident we do have a plan.
"It's just that we ran out of time here, which sucks.
"It's disappointing but not panic stations.
"We know what's going on. We just need time to manage it to get back on the court as quickly as we can."
Aussie determined to remain positive
Barty is determined to remain optimistic, however, and insists there will be a silver lining when they can eventually get to the heart of the issue.
"I've had my fair share of tears this week. It's all good. Everything happens for a reason. There will be a silver lining in this eventually," she said.
"Once I find out what that is, it'll make me feel a little bit better - but it will be there, I'm sure."
As Barty and her team try to negotiate her current physical woes, they take some comfort in remembering what she's achieved on her exhausting US/Europe tour over the past two-and-a-half months.
She won two titles in Miami and Stuttgart, made another final in Madrid and had a stretch of clay-court mastery that underlined her world No.1 status leading up to Roland Garros.
These were considerable achievements Barty could cling to.
"It's heartbreaking ... but it won't take away the brilliant three months that we have had, as much as it hurts right now," she said.
"We've had such a brilliant clay-court season, and to get a little bit unlucky with the timing of this injury, with something acute happening over the weekend and just running out of time, it's disappointing.
"But what happened today and this week here in Paris won't take away from what we've achieved - we have had a brilliant, brilliant time."
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