Casper Ruud followed Rafael Nadal out of the Australian Open and admitted his decision to play through much of December rather than have an off-season may have been a mistake.
The Norwegian second seed, who reached finals at the French Open and US Open last year, had been hoping for another deep run this fortnight, only to run into an in-form Jenson Brooksby.
After a 6-3 7-5 6-7 (4-7) 6-2 defeat in three hours and 55 minutes on Rod Laver Arena, Ruud was asked about his decision to head to Latin America for a lucrative exhibition jaunt with Nadal at the end of the 2022 campaign.
He planned to take a break in February instead, but can now begin that early after going out in round two in Melbourne.
The same goes for top seed Nadal, who was already heading for defeat to Mackenzie MacDonald on Wednesday before an injury compounded his misery.
Ruud's initial reaction to being questioned about his busy December was to be defensive, saying: "It's very easy to sit here now and say that was bad for maybe both Rafa and I due to the fact that we lost early here.
"At the same time, I see no reason why we couldn't have a good Australian Open or made better results down here. I think it's coincidental sometimes."
He spoke of the talent among fellow tour players making every player vulnerable, and the "small margins" between victory and defeat.
Asked whether he had any break at all, Ruud outlined how he left for the Latin America trip on November 21 and returned in early December, before heading off on a week's holiday to the Maldives. He then stopped for a training block in Abu Dhabi on the way home and played two matches at the Mubadala exhibition event.
At the end of this season, Ruud might insist on a longer break and a focused training block.
"It was maybe not enough to be able to perform well here this year," Ruud said. "So it will be considered by me and my team what we will do in December this year, and if this was the right way to prepare for Australian Open or not.
"Maybe it looks like it was not the right way, but there are many factors that come into play. I have done what I felt was the right preparation but wasn't able to perform and win as many matches as I hoped here this year."