Karen Khachanov reached the first Grand Slam semi-final of his career after producing a stunning 7-5 4-6 7-5 6-7(3) 6-4 victory over Nick Kyrgios at the US Open.
Kyrgios could hardly have been in better form as he came into the match boasting an ATP Tour-best 26 victories going back to the start of the grass-court section of the calendar early in the summer.
But - as is so rare - the Australian was ultimately out-gunned, with Khachanov able to produce a performance that demonstrated his immense talent on the biggest stage the sport has to offer.
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Kyrgios, who had been aiming to become the first Australian man since Lleyton Hewitt in 2005 to reach the last four at Flushing Meadows, could not quite find the magic in the final set after roaring back for a second time in the match.
The 27-year-old had soared to the top of the list of contenders after downing world No. 1 and reigning champion in New York, Daniil Medvedev, but he was not able to produce the same level of performance on the night as he exited the tournament in disappointing fashion.
For Khachanov, it was a reminder of his unquestioned ability and a display to remember as he secured his place in the last four where he will face fifth seed Casper Ruud, who earlier on defeated 13th seed Matteo Berrettini, 6-1 6-4 7-6(4).
"I did it! I did it!," Khachanov said in his post-match interview. "It was a crazy match but I came ready to fight and to play five sets.
"I was expecting it would be like this. I was ready to run, to fight, to play five sets. We played for almost four hours [three hours and 39 minutes]. That’s the only way to beat Nick, I think.
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“I had some opportunities in the fourth set. He played an amazing tie-break. What can I do? I had to stay focused and try to win the next set.
"I’m really proud of myself. I was really focused from the beginning to the end, and I got the win.”
Kyrgios, who has been very open about feeling homesick, will now get his chance to return to Australia after a relentless and intense period in the calendar.
"Yeah, I just came out flat," he admitted in his post-match press conference. "Physically, I didn't feel great. Then I ended up feeling great towards the end of the match.
"I'm obviously devastated, but all credit to Karen. He's a fighter. He's a warrior. I thought he served really good today. Honestly, probably the best server I played in this tournament, to be honest, the way he was hitting his spots under pressure.
"He just played the big points well, really wasn't anything in it. I'm just devastated, obviously. I just feel like it was either winning it all or nothing at all, to be honest. I feel like I've just failed at this event right now. That's what it feels like.
Nick Kyrgios smashes racquets and his bottle during his US Open quarter-final loss to Karen Khachanov
Image credit: Getty Images
"Honestly, I don't even really care about any other tournament. I feel like at the Grand Slams, now having success at a Grand Slam, it's just like no other tournament really matters.
"It's like you get better, you get worse, then at a Grand Slam none of it matters. You either win or lose. People don't really care if you got better on the day or you lost in the fifth or played one of the best matches of the tournament. You lost, so...
"I honestly feel like s***. I feel like I've let so many people down. I just don't know. I feel like I'm playing Tokyo and stuff. But I feel like these four tournaments are the only ones that are ever going to matter. It's just like you have got to start it all again. I have to wait till the Australian Open.
"It's just devastating. Like, it's heartbreaking. Not just for me, but for everyone that I know that wants me to win. That's all people remember at a Grand Slam, whether you win or you lose. I think pretty much every other tournament during the year is a waste of time, really. You should just run up and show up at a Grand Slam. That's what you're remembered by."
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