Novak Djokovic brilliantly deposed the king of Roland Garros.
A move of the ranking system made this a last four contest, but it was worth it as he dismissed 13-time champion Rafael Nadal 3-6, 6-3, 7-6, 6-2 across four hours and 11 minutes of breathtaking tennis.
It was so good that, amid scenes of uproar, the 5,000 crowd was given dispensation to ignore Paris’s present curfew and stay on as the 11pm cut-off time loomed. A re-run of the French revolution was thereby avoided.
He now meets 22 year-old Stefanos Tsitsipas, who earlier became the first Greek to make the final of a Major with a five set victory over Alex Zverev.
Their match took a sapping three hours and 37 minutes, meaning that the start to the main event was delayed until 7.10pm.
Given how long best-of-five set matches last on clay courts it was a stunningly inept decision of the French Open not to start the opener until 3pm, especially when they knew there is an 11pm go-home deadline currently in place.
That was forgotten by the end as Djokovic both the game and the spirit of the man who has dominated this western corner of the French capital since 2005. It was his first loss since 2016 on Court Philippe Chatrier.
Djokovic is now on the cusp of winning a 19th Grand Slam title, putting him one behind Nadal and Roger Federer. The Spaniard was counting on this.
It was breathless and brilliant throughout, and a hint of what was to come was in the first two games taking 16 minutes, with Nadal securing an early break.
However, this was not like final last October, when the Spaniard wiped out his opponent in the opener.
Although he did not win a game until 5-0 down he was always more competitive than back then, and often made Nadal play an extra ball when he thought he had the point won.
If the second was the most brutal ever played between this pair, the third was the most fascinatingly undulating, littered with points that combined brain with brawn.
Calm and dead-eyed, the Serb served for it at 5-4 30-0 when from nowhere he netted a simple forehand with the court wide open.
That looked set to haunt him for a long time because Nadal suddenly found his length again and broke back.
By the end there was that rarest of sights, Nadal having both his game and his spirit broken as he lost the last six games in succession.
Djokovic said afterwards: ‘It was a privilege for me to be on court with Rafa for this unbelievable match, it’s the best I’ve played in Paris for sure. An unbelievable atmosphere. To win against Rafa on his court needed my best tennis. No pressure – at least that’s what you tell yourself.’
For Tsitsipas there had been tears of joy as he became the first player from his tennis backwater of a country to make a Grand Slam final.