It was nearly 1am and the temperature was a steamy 82 as Roger Federer tried to hold back the years at the US Open.
But at 37 years old he could not fight off the remarkable challenge of John Millman, the world No 55 from Australia, who scored a sensational upset to dismiss the great Swiss from the fourth round.
Millman emerged from obscurity to score a 3-6 7-5 7-6 7-6 win in three hours and 33 minutes over the world No 2, who was heavy legged in the oppressive conditions of Flushing Meadows.
He now meets Novak Djokovic, something unimaginable barely five years ago, when his shoulder was so badly injured he tried a stint working the financial services company of a friend in his native Brisbane.
That Millman can play good tennis is well known, but what was remarkable was the sheer span of time that he managed to maintain his level, serving beautifully and managing impressive depth on his groundstrokes.
He was certainly good enough to take advantage of a sub-par Federer, who had a particularly poor serving night, delivering ten double faults and managing to land in less than 50 per cent of his first serves.
Millman was delighted afterwards, saying: ‘I’m in a bit of disbelief. Roger has been a hero of mine. Today he wasn’t at his best but I will take it.
‘I felt a bit of a deer in the headlights to begin with but I got out of a tough second set and found my fight. I started to serve really well and he had an off service night. The one thing I can control is the fight in me and I did that.’
After a routine-looking first set the Australian took advantage of Federer’s dreadful first serve percentage to dictate the play and come back into the match.
When he forced a third set tiebreak he gratefully accepted a critical unforced error from the Swiss, which at 3-2 saw him poke a simple forehand volley into the net. There were all too many of them, 76 unforced errors on the official count.
It was when he got to 7-7 that a feeling developed that this was meant to be the humble Australian’s night. He hit two successive forehands with all his might that just clipped the baseline, making them impossible to play and putting him 2-1 up.
In the fourth set the long-awaited Federer surge seemed to materialise when he moved ahead by a break, but Millman pulled it back to force a tiebreak.
Federer sealed his own fate with successive double faults from 2-1 down, giving his opponent too much clear blue water between them and a wild forehand long finished things off.
So he misses out on what was meant to be a showdown with Djokovic in the quarter finals, to the horror of his biggest celebrity fan, Anna Wintour, watching again in his support box. Like everyone else, she has to recognise that Federer is 37 years old, and nothing lasts forever.