The second-seeded Alcaraz lost to in-form Alexander Zverev in four sets, which ended his interest in the tournament for another year. The Spaniard did not ponder the result with disappointment but instead reflected on that loss with positive energy.
In just his third visit to Melbourne, he broke new ground by reaching his first quarterfinal after missing last year's participation due to injury. But of concern is that Alcaraz, who was among the tournament favorites, will depart earlier than usual from yet another tour-level event.
Since Alcaraz rose to stardom and entrenched himself as part of the elite at the 2022 US Open, he has never endured a drought quite like the one he has been experiencing of late. Last year's win at Wimbledon, in which he dethroned Novak Djokovic as king of Centre Court, was symbolic of the player he has become - a star.
He was comfortably the second highest-earning active men's player in the past year, with sponsors gobbling to sign him up on multi-million deals. Alcaraz won six titles last year, one less than tour leader Djokovic, who won seven from 12 events.
The early fears with Alcaraz's fans stem from the fact that he has not added to his trophy cabinet since winning the gold at SW19. In fact, he has been to just one final after that, losing to Djokovic in that lungbuster of a final in Cincinnati.
All six of his triumphs came in the first seven months of 2023. But it has now turned to a famine of zero titles in six months since as he heads home to recuperate from a fortnight of competition.
The next time Alcaraz will be in action is in mid-February, playing tournaments in Buenos Aires and Rio. Alcaraz reached finals at both events last year, winning in Argentina and losing to Cameron Norrie in Brazil. The bright side is that Alcaraz stands to touch gold during the Golden Swing to end his current drought.