Rafael Nadal’s quarter-final clash with Diego Schwartzman at the US Open had fans in disbelief, with the opening two sets proving to be an absolute rollercoaster.
Nadal surged into the semi-finals with a straight-sets win, but it was far from straight-forward.
‘OH MY GOODNESS’: Extraordinary anomaly stuns US Open commentators
Nadal stormed out to a 4-0 lead in the opening set, looking like he was about to wipe the floor with his Argentine opponent.
But Schwartzman managed to break back twice and level things at 4-4.
Nadal then steadied the ship and broke Schwartzman to take the first set 6-4.
If fans weren’t already scratching their heads over the topsy-turvy set, they certainly were moments later when it happened again in the second.
Nadal held a 5-1 lead over a seemingly hapless Schwartzman, before the World No.21 somehow got it back to 5-5.
But just like the first set Schwartzman couldn’t go on with it, losing his serve at the worst time to surrender it 7-5.
“This is inexplicable,” John McEnroe said in commentary for ESPN.
Nadal had it much easier in the third, winning 6-2.
But fans watching at home were gobsmacked by the early drama.
What is going on with Nadal?? Hopefully he gets back on track!— Sarah Fink (@SarahKSU21) September 5, 2019
Not sure what Nadal is playing at tonight, but he's up two sets despite going completely awol for twenty minutes in both of those sets.— Justin Bryant (@Keepers_Union) September 5, 2019
What is going on at center court??? Nadal looked like he was going to triple bagel Schwartzman. Then Schwartzman broke him twice and it's all even again.— Deke Zucker (@Barstool_Quotes) September 5, 2019
Tennis is a weird sport.
Oh my God, Nadal what is going on? 4 straight games 🥴— Ama Kehinde Selasi (@KehOdus) September 5, 2019
At some point I was more angry than Nadal himself. How can you give away points at 1-5 and let your opponent comeback to 5-5 it's crazy. Am sure complacency creeped in. #USOpen— biodun yusuf (@bideyy) September 5, 2019
Nadal vs schwartzman is crazy. What a battle.— Nathan C Lofay (@LofayC) September 5, 2019
Nadal spoke of "a tough situation" in the first two sets, saying: "I had some mistakes but I am super happy how I accepted the situation and the challenge.
"Being in the semi-finals is super important for me."
Nadal's win at the Arthur Ashe Stadium moved him a step closer to a 19th major title in all, which will be just one short of Swiss ace Roger Federer's record.
Earlier, Italy's Matteo Berrettini advanced to his first grand slam semi-final, beating Frenchman Gael Monfils in a thrilling five-set encounter that went for nearly four exhausting hours.
With both players fighting fatigue and a faulty serve down the stretch, Berrettini eventually triumphed 3-6 6-3 6-2 3-6 7-6 (7-5).
Berrettini finally knocked out the No.13 seed on his fifth match point after double-faulting away his first chance long before that.
"Right now I don't remember any points. Just the match point," No.24 seed Berrettini said on court.
"While I was playing I thought, this is one of the best matches I ever saw. I was playing, but I was watching also."
The match that began under muggy conditions ended under the closed roof at Arthur Ashe Stadium, 3 hours, 57 minutes after it began.
For Berrettini, it marked the latest triumph in a season in which the 23-year-old Italian won titles in Budapest and Stuttgart en route to a career-high ranking of 20th in June.