World number eight Rafael Nadal is out of the US Open after losing a five-set, third-round thriller to Italian Fabio Fognini at Flushing Meadows.
Spaniard Nadal, 29, the winner of 14 Grand Slam titles, won the first two sets, but lost the next three as he was beaten 3-6 4-6 6-4 6-3 6-4.
It is the first time that the double US Open winner has lost in a Grand Slam having been two sets up.
World number 32 Fognini, 28, faces Spain’s Feliciano Lopez in round four.
The defeat ended eighth-seeded Nadal’s run of 10 successive years in which he has claimed at least one grand slam singles title.
Earlier this year, he lost in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open to Czech Tomas Berdych and the last eight at the French Open to Serbian world number one Novak Djokovic, before he was eliminated in the second round of Wimbledon by American qualifier Dustin Brown.
It is also the earliest he has been eliminated from the US Open since athird-round exit at the hands of American James Blake in 2005.
“The only thing this means is I played worse than the last 10 years,” said Nadal. “That’s the real thing. By the way, for me it was amazing to win 10 years in a row a Grand Slam.
“You can imagine how difficult it is to make that happen. I have to accept that it was not my year and keep fighting till the end of the season to finish in a positive way.”
Clay court specialist Fognini, who had lost his last seven matches on hard courts coming into this tournament, played magnificently from the third set on against an opponent he had beaten twice this season but lost to in the final of the Hamburg Open in August.
In a gripping final set, the two traded seven service breaks in a row, before Fognini brought the three hour 46-minute tie to an end shortly after 01:00 local time.
“I can’t describe how happy I am,” said Fognini. “It was very tough. To do it against Rafa, two sets down – it was an incredible match.”
Fognini is in to the fourth round at Flushing Meadows for the first time and is the first Italian man to reach this stage at the US Open since Davide Sanguinetti 10 years ago.
Source: BBC Sports