Those hopes were dashed by three days of brilliant cricket from the best Test side in the world which resulted in a 309-run defeat for Ponting and the men in the baggy green caps.
"It's been a pretty long, tough week," he told reporters. "I know I've been more nervous this game than any other game I've played, just for the reason that how much it means to me playing for Australia.
"I was comfortable with the decision before this game anyway. I just had a bit more of a fairytale ending in my own eyes than what's happened this week."
Ponting did not hang around at the crease after his 40-minute knock but was mobbed by South African players wanting to shake his hand as he walked from the field.
He looked back only once, doffing his helmet and raising both arms to bask one last time in the applause of his compatriots.
"(I have) no regrets," he said. "I'll stand by every decision I've made on or off the field. Honestly, looking back, I don't think I'd change too much.
"I'll miss the mateship. I'll miss the dressing room. That's the stuff you can't replace."
Brief Scores: South Africa 225 and 569 beat Australia 163 and 322 (Mitchell Starc 68 not out, Ed Cowan 53; Dale Steyn 3/72, Robin Peterson 3/127)
No fairytale ending