Devastated Marin Cilic admitted his Wimbledon final tears were triggered by the realisation his bid to shock Roger Federer was destined to end in a painful defeat.
Cilic wept inconsolably on Centre Court midway through the second set after calling for medical attention on a nasty blister on his left foot.
The former US Open champion gamely played through the agony, but couldn’t stop Federer cruising to a 6-3, 6-1, 6-4 victory.
“I got a bad blister in the semi-final against Sam Querrey. Fluid just came down under my callous in the foot,” Cilic said.
“The physios here helped me over the last 30 hours. They were with me constantly and did as much as they could.
“I still felt the pain. Every time I had to do a reaction fast, fast change of movement, I was unable to do that.
“Obviously it was very tough emotionally because I know how much I went through in the last few months in preparation for Wimbledon.”
Cilic explained that his tears at 3-0 down in the second set were more a result of his disappointment at not being able to perform at his best rather than a legacy of the pain.
“It was just a feeling I knew I cannot give my best on the court, that I cannot give my best game, especially at this stage of my career, at such a big match,” he said.
“It was very, very difficult to deal with it. It didn’t hurt so much that it was putting me in tears. It was just that feeling that I wasn’t able to give the best.
“It was actually very difficult to focus on the match, as well, as my mind was all the time blocked with the pain.
“It was tough for me to focus on the tactics, on the things that I needed to do. I wasn’t serving very good today because of that.
“Also I was just not able to set up properly on the balls. It was very, very tough to deal with it.”
Cilic had taken pain relief before the match in a bid to get him through, but he revealed he thought he would struggle once he felt more discomfort in the pre-match warm-up.
“We even tried to block the pain. But in that area it’s very difficult because it’s hard skin. It helped, but I still felt some pain,” he said.
“Even when I was warming up for the match, I was trying to test myself in exercises with change of direction. Really I was too slow basically to react. I knew that it’s going to be difficult. But I tried.”
Cilic is confident the blister will have healed by the time he starts his build-up for the US Open, which starts in late August.
“Having now three weeks off before U.S. series, tournaments in Montreal and Cincinnati, I believe until that time everything is going to be okay,” he said.
Despite the agony of being denied a true chance to compete in the final, the 28-year-old took heart from his run to his maiden Wimbledon final and his first at any Grand Slam since winning the US Open in 2014.
“Obviously it’s a sad one, it’s a devastating one, but I’m really proud of myself for everything I did these two weeks over here,” he said.
“I played, I would say, probably best tennis of my life. That’s what I’m going to take home with me.
“This will give me much more confidence, much more strength for the rest of the year. I know that my level can even go higher.
“That’s something which is definitely making me more happy.”