If there was any doubt about how tormented Mikhail Youzhny felt as he was being bullied into a 6-0 6-2 6-2 submission by David Ferrer at the French Open, the single word "SORRY!" etched into the red clay by the Russian said it all on Saturday.
A disbelieving Youzhny was red-faced after winning only six points, all on his own serve, during the first eight games of the third-round contest against a man he had beaten four times in six previous meetings.
When he finally halted the run to win his first game after 30 minutes, he starting scraping a message into the red clay with the toe of his right shoe.
Spectators sitting in the stands craned their necks to read the writing. Was it 'yippee' or 'hooray' or even 'thank God'?
No, it was much more simple than that.
It simply said "SORRY!", a sentiment that drew a loud round of sympathetic applause from the roasting fans on a furnace-like Court Suzanne Lenglen.
"I just wanted to say sorry to the fans because they came to see a beautiful match but I simply could not give them that," the tortured Youzhny, with sweat still dripping off his face, told Russian reporters.
Ferrer was so zoned in on completing the demolition job quickly, he did not even realise what the commotion was about.
"I didn't see (him drawing the message)," said Ferrer, who has romped into the last 16 without dropping a set.
"I was very focused in the match and it was funny. It was funny now because I won. I'm very happy."
It was no laughing matter for Youzhny and he is not the first player to convey a message to the crowd in clay.
Gustavo Kuerten memorably celebrated his third and final triumph here in 2001 by drawing a giant love-heart in the red clay with his racket and then lying in it after beating Alex Corretja in the final.
The Brazilian even blew kisses while lying in his artwork but Youzhny could not even muster a smile as he was being blown away by Ferrer.
The Russian, who was once left bloodied after he repeatedly whacked his racket against his forehand during a 2008 match, increasingly bore the look of a man who was being gored during a bullfight with no escape in sight.
The bearded Russian then tried every trick to halt Ferrer's charge - including between-the-leg shots and even berating the ball for not going over the net - but it was not meant to be his day.
He left Ferrer leaping and roaring for joy after hitting a forehand long on match point to bow out after one hour and 41 minutes of entertaining, yet one-sided, action.
Ferrer received a standing ovation for his on-court destruction but Youzhny was not impressed by the Spanish sixth seed's performance.
"Ferrer played well, but not very well. He only won because I played horribly," said the Russian who has gone past the third round only twice in 12 visits to the Parisian slam.
(Editing by Clare Fallon)