An emotional Alex Bolt conceded he was the second-best player on court after injury forced his good mate Blake Mott to retire from their Australian Open wildcard playoff match.
Mott led two sets to one - the fourth was level at 3-3 - when he tripped and fell heavily while attempting a forehand smash, hurting his left wrist.
Play was held up for more than 10 minutes as the chair umpire and a concerned Bolt checked on Mott, who took a medical time-out.
Mott, 23, showed brilliant sportsmanship by rushing over to assist his good mate, whom he shares the same coach with.
The wrist was strapped and Mott returned, only to retire after Bolt easily won the next three points.
The Aussie’s concern for his injured rival was touching to see and Mott’s comments afterwards demonstrated his true class.
"I still really don't know what to think about it," Bolt told AAP minutes later.
"It really should be Motty here talking to you, not me.
"He was by far the better player out there today, but unfortunately he went down with a bit of an injury and couldn't play on.
"Me and him share the same coach (Peter Luczak), you know, we've been training together for the past six weeks, every day.
"It's hard not to feel sorry for the guy."
Really nice to see the support for a mate— Jo Lawson (@JoLawso10321755) December 9, 2019
Mott had only returned to professional tennis in September after almost two years out of the game.
He had put together an impressive 14-2 record in that time and took confidence into the wildcard playoff tournament.
But his dream of reaching a first Australian Open main draw since 2017 is now in serious jeopardy.
Regardless of his injury status, Mott now needs to receive a reciprocal wildcard entry from Tennis Australia.
Bolt, who reached the third round of the 2019 Australian Open as a wildcard entrant, was relieved to advance to the quarter-finals of the playoff tournament.
Shattering for Blake Mott who is forced to retire with a left wrist injury sustained in the third set. Alex Bolt advances to the quarterfinals 6-7(3), 6-4, 6-7(2), 3-3ret. #AOPlayoff pic.twitter.com/tSPDFhDCzs— Jedd Zetzer (@JeddZetzer) December 9, 2019
He and Mott battled away in energy-sapping heat as the temperature soared well above 30C.
"It's not just hot out there, it's really swirly," world no.160 Bolt said.
"The wind was going in every direction and it was really hard to get into a rhythm out there.
"I just hung around, served well and tried to compete as hard as I could.
"I'll count my lucky stars tonight and then see if I can go a few further this year."