Julien Benneteau called the Paris Masters an unforgettable week for him, producing one of the best showings of his career.
The Frenchman, 35, entered the tournament on a wildcard and defeated Denis Shapovalov, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, David Goffin and Cilic to reach the semifinals, cheered on by the local crowds.
"[I] played at a very high level," he told press at Paris. "I had great moments, for which I've been looking for a couple of years. I wanted to share this with my family, with my friends. It's a week that will never be blemished."
But the run left the veteran lacking energy against Jack Sock in the semifinals, where he fell in relatively straightforward fashion. "It was complicated for me to hold in intensity," he said. "My legs were heavy, hard, it was difficult for me pushing off when serving and off the ground with my backhand."
Sock's forehand was "really unbelievable," added Benneteau. "He was better in all fronts."
A Grand Slam champion in doubles and a former French Open quarterfinalist, Benneteau had just recently announced that he was planning to retire, but may now be prompted to reconsider. He reached a career-high No. 25 in singles in 2014, but an injury the following year held him back.
He now hopes to be selected for pre-training for the Davis Cup final in a couple of weeks, though acknowledging that he is unlikely to play on the team.
Benneteau should move from No. 83 to around No. 51 in the rankings.