Like so many British sporting hopefuls, Andy Murray was so weighed down by the burden of domestic expectations it was a wonder he could get on the court, let alone win a game. Roger Federer piled on the agony, asking, teasingly, whether Murray would be the first Brit to win the Australian Open "in about 150,000 years".
In the end, Federer got away with his jibe, dashing the hopes of the legions of Murray fans that still cherished the idea that the match in Melbourne would see the triumph of hope over experience. Alas for them, Federer is an athlete of rare skill and distinction, and he would not conform to the fans' wishful thinking.
Murray has nothing to be ashamed of, however, and Federer was prescient as well as generous when he described his opponent as "too good a player not to win a grand slam some day".
At 22, Murray has many years in tennis ahead of him. The triumph of experience over hope will be his to savour in the future.