Russian tennis star Andrey Rublev broke down in tears during his match against American Francis Tiafoe in gut-wrenching scenes during the US Open quarter-finals.
Tiafoe backed up his victory over Rafa Nadal with a straight-sets victory over Rublev to become the first American man to reach the US Open semi-finals for 16 years.
'DISGRACEFUL': Nick Kyrgios under fire over post-match act at US Open
'GUTTED TO HEAR': Tennis fans react to sad Novak Djokovic news
Not since Andy Roddick in 2006 has a home player reached the last four in the men's singles, and Tiafoe is attempting to become the first home champion since Roddick won his only slam title in 2003.
Tiafoe pulled off another victory in front of an adoring home crowd.
However, the atmosphere became too much for Rublev in the final stages of the match.
At 4-3 in the third, Rublev was seen on his chair during the changeover in tears.
Rublev was biting down on a tennis ball in anguish, before crying into his towel.
Having endured a tough few months on the court, Rublev would have been ruing the chance to reach a grand slam semi-final.
Despite a raucous home crowd willing Tiafoe through to the semi-final, fans felt for Rublev during the tough scenes.
— 5th Slam Fan (@WendyWinslet) September 7, 2022
— Tiebreak Tennis (@tiebreaktennis_) September 7, 2022
Really like #Rublev, hard watching him break down mentally/emotionally. Was he always like this? Happening a lot lately. 6 losses at QF stage of Majors now, probably felt it was his time here. Could be Tiafoe's time. Sinner to win tonight vs Alcaraz. And Pegula to upset Swiatek. https://t.co/nS8HKq0J0a
— Paul Kelly (@PaulPatJoeKelly) September 7, 2022
Rublev crying at the change of ends currently. Have to feel for him, this environment cannot be easy to play in when the whole stadium wants you to fail.
— Scott Barclay (@BarclayCard18) September 7, 2022
Rublev crying after Tiafoe broke his serve was absolutely heart-wrenching. It was the only brake across the entire match and he looked absolutely devastated. He was trying so hard but couldn't push it over the line. Straight up mental anguish. #USOpen
— cybonics (@cybonics_) September 7, 2022
Rublev is a classy player. Greets the crowd even if he was totally overwhelmed and the crowd was cheering for the home-favorite.
Other players would have gone straight to the locker room.
Hope he recovers well from this loss.
— Relevant Tennis | Stats & Info (@RelevantTennis) September 7, 2022
YAS, Tiafoe !!!! 🔥 And somebody need to check on Rublev. He beat himself up the whole match, literally. Hard to watch.hit himself on the legs. Biting and screaming into a ball. Bit his fist and scratched himself to bleeding. Whines when Frances took a bathroom break. 😩 #USOpen
— Eric Darnell Pritchard (@EricDarnell) September 7, 2022
— Live Laugh Love (@x_markdaspot) September 7, 2022
Francis Tiafoe on the verge of US Open history
Tiafoe praised the American crowd after helping ghim over the line for his maiden grand slam appearance.
"This is wild, this is crazy," said Tiafoe.
"Biggest win of my life, coming out and getting another big win. It's huge growth. It's tough to turn a page but I did and now I'm in the semis.
"I feel so at home on courts like this. I want to play, I want to give my best. Let's enjoy this one but we've got two more guys."
American tennis has been desperate for its next male grand slam singles champion, and Tiafoe's victory over Nadal was hailed as the biggest result for the home nation on the men's side in New York since James Blake defeated the Spaniard back in 2005.
His family could not afford lessons or equipment but he played when he could and was taken under the wing of a coach who saw his potential and put him on the path to the professional game.
Tiafoe, who was sent a good luck message by the president of Sierra Leone, made Nadal look sluggish with his powerful ball-striking and willingness to come forward and he was terrific in the big moments against Rublev.
He saved a set point in the 12th game of the opening set before playing two superb tie-breaks, especially the second one, where he did not lose a point.
Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.