Andy Murray crashed out of the French Open with a 6-4 6-7 (3/7) 6-3 6-2 defeat by David Ferrer in the quarter-finals.
Murray had never beaten the wall-like Spaniard in three previous meetings on clay and simply made too many errors to change that statistic in cool and wet conditions at Roland Garros.
There was a glimmer of hope when he took the second set but a rain break seemed to knock the Scot out of his rhythm and when he did move ahead he could not make it count, breaking serve five times in the match and giving it straight back on every occasion.
Murray, the world's number four ranked tennis player, looked sharp at the start and twice had the chance to break in the third game but he could not take either, and Ferrer took full advantage in the next game, breaking for 3-1 when Murray again netted a backhand.
Murray brought up two more break points at 5-3, this time the Spaniard sending a forehand long. He was still not out of the woods, though, and, after Murray clawed his way back from 0-30, Ferrer created a set point, which he took when the fourth seed netted a forehand.
There was a brief rain break in the second as Murray held on for a tie-break and then stepped up his game just at the right time, winning five points in a row from 1-0 down and eventually taking it 7-3.
Murray held serve in the opening game of the third set and then the rain really began to come down, forcing a proper delay - although only for around half an hour.
The break certainly helped Ferrer more than Murray, and at the end of a very long game at 1-1, the Spaniard broke serve for a fifth time in the match when his opponent netted a backhand.
Murray was grumbling to himself but he rediscovered his form and focus to break back for 3-3 with a series of excellent groundstrokes, ending with a thumping forehand winner. With a certain inevitability, though, once more the 25-year-old could not hold onto his own serve, and in his next service game Ferrer brought up three set points, taking the third.
It was groundhog day at the start of the fourth set as Murray played a terrific defensive point to break Ferrer only to surrender his serve immediately for the fifth time, this time sending a forehand just wide. He had two chances to move ahead again but could not take either, and the end looked nigh when he lost a third successive game with another wayward forehand.