Alex de Minaur shows amazing fight in epic US Open five-setter
Australian teenager Alex de Minaur produced a gallant effort in saving seven match points before going down to former champion Marin Cilic in five sets in the third round of the US Open.
Cilic, the 2014 US Open champion, denied the 19-year-old de Minaur a place in the last 16 with a gripping 4-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 7-5 victory in a midnight thriller on Louis Armstrong Stadium in New York.
Like two prize fighters, world number seven Cilic and de Minaur traded savage blows for exactly four hours in a baseline slugfest that started just before 10.30 on Saturday night (local time) and finished at 2.22 on Sunday morning.
Cilic, runner-up to Roger Federer at Wimbledon last year and again at the 2018 Australian Open, was finally the last man standing after mounting a ferocious fight-back.
First he trailed by two sets to love, then the seventh-seeded Cilic rallied from a service break down in the deciding fifth set before finally delivering the knock-out punch to leave John Millman to fly the Australian flag in the men's singles.
"I'm not going to lie, I'm completely devastated," de Minaur said.
"But at the same time, it is the beauty of this sport.
"I was two sets to love up against a quality opponent today and didn't manage to finish it off, but I left it all out there.
"I have to be proud of my efforts. I gave it every single inch of energy I had left and it is a great learning experience for me."
With Nick Kyrgios licking his wounds after a straight-sets mauling from Federer, the 45th-ranked de Minaur had been bidding to join Millman in the second week of a major for the first time.
Not since Lleyton Hewitt beat Pete Sampras in the 2001 final and two-time champion Pat Rafter made the fourth round had two Australians ventured so deep in the Flushing Meadows draw.
Alas, de Minaur fell a set short after a valiant display of scrambling and relentless counter attack in the face of Cilic's awesome firepower.
De Minaur heroically saved five match points in a brutal eighth game of the fifth set to make Cilic serve it out at 5-3.
He was unable to, with de Minaur fending off another match point to break back and then level the set at 5-5.
But the Croat finally prevailed on his seventh match point to seal a famous win and a fourth-round date with Belgian 10th seed David Goffin.