The worry-lines weren't that visible but the body language on Sunday spoke of Pankaj Advani's eagerness to retain his Asian Games billiards crown.
Getting past Myanmar's Oo Nay Thway Oo wasn't going to be easy and when he did, the relief and the childlike joy his face radiated reflected the truth: victory is so much sweeter when you are asked to work harder for it.
Thway was just the right opponent for the defending champion - calm and composed, his face hardly betraying any emotion even during times of stress.
His third-frame demolition of Advani and the manner in which the Indian came roaring back, contained all the elements of a combat sport.
The result was a close 3-2 (33-100, 100-61, 12-101, 101-4, 100-45) in the 100-up format, the final frame played in a pressure-cooker situation showing up the man of steel. The Bangalorean's victory also gave India its first gold medal at the 16th Asian Games.