Juan Martin del Potro’s late-season resurgence came crashing to a halt when he was dumped out of the Shanghai Masters by David Goffin on Tuesday.
The lanky Argentine, playing on a wildcard, faded after taking the first set against the Belgian seed, who won 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 in two hours, 18 minutes.
It ends a triumphant run for del Potro, who reached the Rio Olympics final and the US Open last eight before leading Argentina into the Davis Cup final.
“I was close to winning, I played a good match,” said del Potro, after a rollercoaster third set which featured five breaks of serve.
“But for me it has been a great season. Trying to do a good comeback after many injuries. This is just a match. I’m so glad to be playing in this tournament.”
Del Potro has endured torturous injury struggles since winning the 2009 US Open, but he can end 2016 on a high when Argentina play Croatia in next month’s Davis Cup final.
“Hopefully I can be better in the next two tournaments for me. Then I will rest and prepare the big important challenge for me and for my country,” he said.
Elsewhere Australia’s Nick Kyrgios, fresh from winning the Japan Open on Sunday, extended his blistering run of form with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Sam Querrey.
World number one Novak Djokovic was due on court against Fabio Fognini as he returns to action after an elbow injury and admitting to problems with motivation.