Andy Roddick acknowledged an “outstanding” performance by Feliciano Lopez after losing a match in straight sets at Wimbledon for only the fifth time in his career.
The three-time runner-up had looked impressive in his first two matches but was outplayed in every department by Lopez, who hit 57 winners and made only seven unforced errors in a 7-6 (7/2) 7-6 (7/2) 6-4 victory on Centre Court.
Greg Rusedski, Andy Murray and Roger Federer, who did it twice, are the only other players to have denied Roddick a set at the All England Club.
Despite the disappointment, the American had few regrets in comparison to last year, when he was surprisingly beaten in the fourth round by Lu Yen-hsun.
He said: “This year's a lot easier to deal with than last year, where I felt like I gave it away.
“I got beat. He came out, he served about as well as someone has. The stuff that's enabled me to beat him seven times, making passing shots under duress, making him play defence on his forehand, he did well today.
“He played an outstanding match.”
Roddick looked back to his best when he reached the Wimbledon final in 2009 and pushed Roger Federer, who had beaten him in 2004 and 2005, all the way to 16-14 in the fifth set.
Asked if it crosses his mind that he may never win Wimbledon, the 28-year-old replied: “I'm human. Of course it does. But you keep moving forward until you decide to stop.”
Lopez said: “To beat Andy on this court is very special. I would say maybe the best probably.”