Rafael Nadal may be out of Wimbledon, but he has done nothing to decrease his already swollen fan base as he demonstrated standout sportsmanly conduct in defeat.
The Spaniard was visibly disappointed at having lost the fifth set 15-13 to 16th seed Gilles Muller in a mammoth clash, which may prove to be the longest match of this year's tournament with 68 games.
However, Nadal refused to walk off the court before his opponent, and was applauded by the Wimbledon crowd as he waited for his fellow player.
A shy raise of the hand to the Wimbledon crowd at the time was followed by a great wave to the crowd as he exited, and he even found time to sign a few autographs for some of the younger fans who wanted one.
The man is undeniably a true champion as well as a class act and the crowds of SW19 will be hoping they see him again.
There have been a few murmurings surrounding the player that he may be on the cusp of retiring, but surely, at only 31, Nadal will look at the likes of Roger Federer, who is playing some of the best tennis of his career at 35, for inspiration.
Federer has not had the same number of injuries as Nadal, but has had a comparable career slump, slipping to 16th in the world at the back end of last year and similar lows in previous years.
Gilles Muller will play 7th seed Marin Cilic tomorrow at 11:30am.
In his post-match interview, the Spaniard didn't really have much to say.
He was again gracious towards his opponent whom he congratulated again. Nadal also lamented letting games go too easily in the first couple of sets which saw him slip to 2-0 down heading into the third set.
However, he made the point that he had the right attitude if not application throughout, demonstrated by the way he fought back to 2-2.
The Championships won't be the same without him, but British fans will be pleased to now see a theoretically easier draw for Andy Murray should he reach the semi-final.
You can watch what Nadal did in the video below.
Murray has struggled with a hip injury, but his form has belied his ailments.
Murray will play 24th seed Sam Querrey tomorrow at 11:30 as well.News Now - Sport News