Nicolas Mahut's fairytale run at the French Open came to an emotional end on Friday as the tennis veteran waved goodbye to his time in the singles draw at Roland Garros amid heartwarming scenes.
Playing at his home grand slam, the 37-year-old Frenchman already had plenty of support but that only grew after a stunning opening round win over Marco Cecchinato, where he came back from two sets down to win in five before following that up with a straight sets victory over German stalwart Philipp Kohlschreiber.
But Mahut couldn't ride the wave forever and he was knocked out by Leonardo Mayer in a tense third round match the Argentine won 3-6 7-6 6-4 7-6.
The result didn't affect the crowd's appreciation for what Mahut managed to do over the opening week of the year's second major — giving him a standing ovation as he left the court.
The special reception came when Mahut's seven-year-old son Natanel ran onto the court to embrace his dad – like he has done after previous matches in Paris — as the world melted. Even Mayer stood and applauded, with some on social media speculating he had tears in his eyes himself.
To add some context to the reception, Mahut was feeling the love in the French capital because his appearance – not least his successful run – came out of nowhere. The renowned doubles specialist has only played one singles match on the ATP tour in 2019 – spending most of his time on the Challenger circuit - and wasn't sure he was even going to turn up to the French Open after receiving a wildcard because he wasn't feeling well.
But Mahut decided to grace the Roland Garros clay and the man ranked outside the top 250 stunned 16th seed Cecchinato in an opening round upset nobody saw coming — except maybe his son, who got used to stealing the show after his dad's performances.
An emotional Mahut hugged his team and grabbed Natanel out of the stands following his first-up victory and the youngster strutted onto the court to soak up the crowd's fanfare with his old man.
It was a similar family affair after the local hero disposed of Kohlschreiber but unfortunately Mahut couldn't repeat the dose against Mayer as he and Natanel said goodbye to the singles side of Roland Garros for 2019.