Dominic Thiem has produced a comeback for the ages to overhaul a fired-up Nick Kyrgios in a five-set classic at the Australian Open, sending a disappointed crowd home to a five-day lockdown in Melbourne.
In the bear-pit atmosphere of Kyrgios's favourite John Cain Arena, US Open champion Thiem dragged himself off the canvas to secure a thrilling 4-6 4-6 6-3 6-4 6-4 win over the Australian showman and set up a fourth-round clash with Grigor Dimitrov.
"That first match against Nick here on his favourite court with an amazing crowd, there are easier things to do," says the Austrian third seed, who sealed victory with a majestic backhand winner down the line.
"Surely that's one of the toughest challenges in our sport. Tonight was epic and a good last match before the lockdown, it's really sad to say."
A cluster of COVID-19 cases in Melbourne means no more fans will attend the Australian Open for at least five days, but the home crowd got their money's worth, if not the desired winner.
Thiem was shell-shocked for the first two sets, barely able to lay a glove on Kyrgios, who channelled the crowd's energy to produce some electrifying tennis.
Earlier, top seed Novak Djokovic survived a major injury scare, as he battled past American Taylor Fritz 7-6(1) 6-4 3-6 4-6 6-2 to reach the fourth round.
After building a two-set lead, the eight-time champion looked in serious trouble, when an injury sustained to his right side at 1-1 in the third set left him grimacing in pain and requiring treatment off court.
Fritz, the 27th seed, took the third set and led in the fourth, when the match had another strange twist, as play was halted, while the crowd were removed in line with the new COVID-19 lockdown starting at midnight in Melbourne.
When play resumed in virtual silence on Rod Laver Arena, after the boisterous atmosphere that had riled Djokovic earlier, Fritz went on to level the match.
But the stoppage appeared to help Djokovic, who despite still struggling at times, dominated the fifth set, reeling off the last four games with his trademark baseline accuracy.
The Serb roared into the night sky like a man possessed, after claiming his 78th - and possibly strangest - match win at the tournament he has dominated for the past decade.
Whether or not he can continue is a major doubt though, as he only has a two-day window to recover from what he described as a tear, before facing Milos Raonic on Sunday.
"I don't have a great experience with tears in terms of continuing, so it's in the clouds whether I step out on the court in two days," 17-time Grand Slam champion Djokovic said shortly after walking off court.
"Hopefully, God willing, I can play."