Briton Kyle Edmund’s Australian Open run came to an end with a straight-set defeat by Croatia’s sixth seed Marin Cilic in the semi-finals.
Cilic won 6-2 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 to reach his first Melbourne final, where he will face Roger Federer or Hyeon Chung.
Edmund, 23, had been trying to become just the fourth British man to reach a Grand Slam final since tennis turned professional in 1968.
His ranking is set to rise from 49th in the world to around 25th next week.
Victory would have seen him overtake Andy Murray as British number one, at least until the Scot makes his expected return from hip surgery for the grass-court season in June.
A remarkable run through the draw, which began with what was then a career-best win over 11th seed Kevin Anderson and included a stunning victory against third seed Grigor Dimitrov, ended in disappointment.
Cilic, the 2014 US Open champion, dominated from the outset, while Edmund required a medical timeout after the first set and appeared to be hindered in the closing stages.
“I noticed in the third game in the third set, he let a couple of balls go,” said Cilic.
“I was seeing that his movement was restricted so I was trying to move the ball around.”
No let-up as Cilic powers into final
Cilic, 29, was playing in his fifth major semi-final, and trying to reach a third Grand Slam final, while Edmund has yet to make it past the semi-finals of any ATP tournament.
The Yorkshireman’s powerful game has improved markedly in the new season but the gulf in experience ultimately showed in an authoritative performance from Cilic.
Two breaks points in the opening game of the match were the only ones Edmund would see all evening.
A double-fault on his opening serve pointed to nerves and Edmund was under pressure early, giving up the first break with a net cord in game six.
When Cilic thumped a forehand into the corner to break again, Edmund had just one winner on his favoured forehand side and had won only 50% of points on serve.
The Briton headed for the locker room and a medical timeout, but there was no obvious sign of distress as he dug in during the second set.
Fired up after an argument with the umpire over a call, Edmund forced a tie-break and kept in touch until 3-3, but he could not chase down a forehand on the run and Cilic raced to 6-3, converting his second break point.
Cilic continued to play aggressively, as he had done against Rafael Nadal in the previous round, keeping the points short and hitting hard and deep, with two breaks carrying him to the verge of victory in the third set.
The world number six dropped just five points behind his first serve and there was little Edmund could do to stop the sixth seed becoming the first Croat to reach the Australian Open final when he swung a serve out wide, before raising his arms aloft in triumph.
“I think in the second set I was a bit up and down with my game and not getting enough returns back,” added Cilic.
“He started to serve quite good. I stayed mentally very focused and tried to play every single point. It was crucial in the tie-break to keep that pressure.”