Kyle Edmund beaten by Fabio Fognini in five set thriller at Roland Garros
British number one Kyle Edmund missed out on a first appearance in the French Open last 16 as he lost a five-set thriller to Italy's Fabio Fognini.
Edmund lost 6-3 4-6 3-6 6-4 6-4 in a fluctuating contest with the 18th seed at Roland Garros.
The 23-year-old Yorkshireman has reached his first Grand Slam semi-final and broken into the world's top 20 for the first time this year.
But the 16th seed could not break new ground on his preferred surface.
Fognini, 31, will play either Croatian third seed Marin Cilic or American Steve Johnson in the fourth round.
Edmund, who had been the last Briton left in the singles at Roland Garros, considers clay his best surface, the slower court allowing him more time to execute his ferocious forehand.
So it is perhaps surprising he has still not gone as far as the last 16 at Roland Garros.
He was close to progressing last year, edged out in a four-hour, five-set epic by South African Kevin Anderson.
Edmund has gained maturity since then, becoming more ruthless as a result of the experience he has picked up going deeper into tournaments over the past 12 months.
Yet he came undone in similar fashion against the enigmatic Fognini.
Only one place separates Edmund and Fognini in the rankings, with the 31-year-old Italian - also a clay-court specialist - edging a fluctuating match on Court Suzanne Lenglen.
Fognini thumped his chest in celebration as the crowd rose to their feet to congratulate both players on their efforts with thundering applause.
Any hopes that there might still be British representation in the doubles at Roland Garros were dashed on Saturday when Scot Jamie Murray and his partner Brazilian Bruno Soares went down 6-4 5-7 6-4 to Argentine Maximo Gonzalez and Chile's Nicolas Jarry in the second round of the men's competition.
Edmund made the perfect start to the match by breaking Fognini's opening serve before the Italian wiped that out in the sixth game during a run of five successive games that enabled him to serve out for the set.
Fognini has twice beaten Rafael Nadal on the red dirt - no mean feat against the man chasing a record-extending 11th French Open title - and all six of his ATP Tour titles have come on the surface.
But the former Roland Garros quarter-finalist is an unpredictable player, his career characterised by flashes of brilliance tempered by a loss of focus.
It showed in the second set as he went from looking relaxed and in control to losing 16 points in a row as Edmund went a double-break up.
Fognini fought back to 5-4 before Edmund, after taking a medical timeout for a hip injury at a delicate stage of the set, leveled by breaking again when the Italian fired a loose forehand wide.
Kyle Edmund received medical attention in the second set
An even start to the third set ended when Edmund broke in the eighth game - moments after Fognini had some heavy strapping applied to his left ankle - a double fault from the Italian enabling Edmund to serve out for a 2-1 sets lead in the following game.
The revolving nature of the match continued in the fourth, Edmund fighting back from 3-0 down to 3-3 before missing an opportunity to break again.
It proved costly as Edmund lost focus, allowing Fognini to rattle off the final two games and force a decider.
No-one watching on an engrossed Lenglen could predict the outcome as both players continued to mix the excellent with the erratic in a tight final set.
With no breaks of serve in the first nine games, Edmund served to stay in the match and could not maintain his composure as Fognini - who hit 41 winners and 60 unforced errors - took his second match point to win in three hours 34 minutes.
This was a scrappy and wildly fluctuating match, in which the result was in doubt until the final game.
Edmund did make errors as he served to stay in the match, but Fognini played a tight game - and just like last year, against Kevin Anderson, the British number one lost a deciding set in a third-round match here 6-4.
There will quite rightly be frustration at another opportunity slipping away, but Edmund does still have an ATP singles final, a doubles title and a first Masters quarter-final to show for this clay-court season.
And now for the grass: the only surface on which, so far, he has not been able to show what he is truly capable of.