Stan Wawrinka has dropped a sad hint about retirement after being forced to withdraw from his opening round match at the US Open with injury.
The three-time major winner - who has been plagued by injuries over the last few years - was two sets down against France’s Corentin Moutet when he was forced to call it quits.
'UNBELIEVABLE': Simona Halep US Open drama leaves tennis world in shock
'MAKE THAT HAPPEN': Rafa Nadal's huge claim about Federer Federer
Wawrinka went down in a second set tiebreak to the Frenchman, to trail 4-6, 6-7, before deciding to call a premature end to proceedings.
The Swiss star was clearly struggling throughout the contest, with the 37-year-old calling multiple times for a trainer to check out a troublesome finger.
Despite his obvious issues, Wawrinka showed plenty of fight in the second set but couldn't capitalise on a number of set points as Moutet forced him into the tiebreaker.
The crowd at Court 5 were clearly taken by surprise when Wawrinka walked towards his opponent to shake hands after losing the second set, signalling an end to the match.
In a sad admission afterwards, Wawrinka revealed that retirement was probably not too far away, even if the Swiss believes he still has more to offer the sport.
“I know that I‘m closer to the end, that’s for sure,” he conceded after the defeat.
“It’s a reality. I will never be able to play as well as I did in my career because I’m getting older, but I believe that I still have some good and big results in me and that’s why I keep gonna fight a little bit.”
Fans were understandably left gutted by the unfortunate nature of the veteran's first round exit at Flushing Meadows.
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) August 29, 2022
— TennisNow (@Tennis_Now) August 29, 2022
It's horrible to watch Stan leave the court with his head in his towel 😢😢😢 You are great champion @stanwawrinka
Remember that!!!! You have our support even in this difficult time pic.twitter.com/B7376h3YDT
— Elitsa Mladenova (@Elicatm84) August 29, 2022
Watching Wawrinka in 2022 just makes me sad
— Jamal (@SheikhAlJamal) August 29, 2022
— Layden Robinson (@LaydenRobinson) August 29, 2022
The 2016 US Open champion Stan Wawrinka is out.
GET WELL SOON CHAMP. https://t.co/sdLJEXWEOZ
— nnis (@nnis_sports) August 29, 2022
Watching Stan wawrinka now as opposed to 2019 or certainly before then is a drastic change and saddens me a bit. Used to be no one better in big matches and big points and now he can’t close sets or opportunities to break or trust his stuff
— Leif Thulin (@LeifThulin) August 29, 2022
Get well soon Wawrinka! Very sad to see you retire.
— Sudipta Guha (@Sudipta05614934) August 29, 2022
Moutet will next face either Czech star Tomas Machac or 21st seed Botic van de Zandschulp in the second round.
Alex de Minaur among round one winners
In other men's action on day one, Alex de Minaur continued his hot American summer to steam into second round, with a 7-5 6-2 6-3 victory over Serbian Filip Krajinovic.
The Aussie 18th seed's straight-sets victory atoned for a first-round exit last year after previously producing his two best grand slam results at Flushing Meadows.
He was a quarter-finalist in 2020 and reached the last 16 the year before.
Relishing the faster conditions, de Minaur swept past Krajinovic in less than two hours to book a potential rematch against his Wimbledon conqueror Cristian Garin.
"Happy to get a win against a tough opponent. I thought I did what I needed to do out there and very happy to be in the second round," de Minaur said.
"Nice, hot, quick, swirly conditions. It wasn't, as I would call it, beautiful tennis but I did exactly what I needed to do.
"At times I expect perfect tennis out of myself. Reality of the sport is that it's not always going to come, so it's about adapting and kind of just being able to accept mistakes.
"That's for me the biggest thing. Just move on and keep fighting and try to win every point out there and staying in the moment.
"Over five sets, it's definitely tough to get through me."
De Minaur's first projected seeded opponent is Spain's world No.15 and two-time US Open semi-finalist Pablo Carreno Busta in round three.
Daniil Medvedev thrashed American Stefan Kozlov 6-2 6-4 6-0, wrapping up the final set in just 28 minutes.
The World No.1, who was denied entry to the last grand slam at Wimbledon due to his homeland's invasion of Ukraine, is seeking to become the first player to retain the title since Roger Federer from 2004-08.
Andy Murry was pleased not to spend more than three sets on court against Argentina's Francisco Cerundolo - cruising through to the next round with a 7-5 6-3 6-3 win.
It felt like five sets," he said. "It is very tricky conditions, very humid and hot. I was really happy the way I got through that one. It wasn't easy, he's had a brilliant year this year. I knew I would have to play well and I did in the important moments."
Murray had not reached the second round in New York since 2016 but Cerundolo, though seeded 24th, was a decent opponent as he is a clay-court specialist who has yet to win a grand slam main draw match.
Elsewhere American Tommy Paul came from behind twice to beat Spain's Bernabe Zapata Miralles 4-6 6-3 2-6 6-0 7-5 in what was the first five-setter of the tournament and his first career win at his home grand slam.
Fellow American Sebastian Korda also broke that hoodoo, beating Facundo Bagnis in four sets.
Another American advanced in an upset, with JJ Wolf ousting No. 16 seed Roberto Bautista Agut in straight sets.
Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.