As he stood with his will broken and psyche cracked, Roger Federer couldn't staunch the flow of tears welling from within him.
Whether it was frustration, confusion or the painful acceptance of his own mortality that drew such emotion from the 13-time Grand Slam winner, Federer's defeat to Rafael Nadal in the Australian Open final will leave deep scars for which there is no quick fix.
Nadal emerged from another epic having dealt a crushing blow in the greatest rivalry in individual sports.
The 22-year-old defied reason to claim his sixth Slam title, recovering from a grueling semifinal to prevail on a hard-court surface upon which he had never previously reached a major final.
Federer's place in history is secure but right now Nadal is beating him up through force of spirit and clarity of tactical thought.
When the midnight hour came and went at Melbourne Park it was Nadal whose conviction remained intact and whose resolve hardened.
When it mattered most it was Federer's game, that beautifully stylish concoction that is too strong for all but one man on the planet, which fell apart.
The man from the Spanish island of Mallorca simply doesn't know when to quit and retains ultimate belief that victory is his destiny even when all the evidence is piled up to suggest the contrary.
Nadal looked spent in the critical third set, yet dug from his deepest reserves of energy and belief to stave off six break points and then prevail in a tiebreak.
In the fifth he never wavered, and it was a spate of uncharacteristic unforced errors from Federer that were decisive.
Nadal has looked unbeatable on clay for years but now he seems like an immoveable object on any surface. Just make sure the stakes are high enough and he will find a way to get it done.
Entering the stage of his career that is normally a tennis player's peak, it isn't hard to believe he is likely to overtake the mark Federer is chasing, Pete Sampras' 14 Slams.
Nadal will chase a fifth straight French Open in four months before defending his Wimbledon title. Now that he is flushed with the extra confidence from knowing he can win Slams anywhere, it is hard to see how Nadal can be stopped.
Federer's tears told their own story – this is what happens when you get broken down by tennis' ultimate warrior.