Lucas Pouille saw three match-point tiebreak opportunities to close out Rafael Nadal slip right on by.
He made sure the fourth chance didn't evaporate, too.
The 22-year-old Frenchman sent a scorching forehand inside the left sideline to seal an upset of the fourth-seeded Nadal on Sunday and advance to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open in New York.
The blistering shot finished a 6-1, 2-6, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (6) fourth-round victory in a marathon match that took 4 hours, 7 minutes.
"This is my first match on the center court against Rafa, and I couldn't dream better than this," the 24th-seeded Pouille said in a postmatch television interview.
"One of us will be in the semifinals, and that will be great," Pouille said. "We know each other very well. We practice a lot. It is going to be a tricky match. If I recover well, we know we can make it a good match and see who is going to win."
Three French players are among the final eight of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time since 1947. Ninth-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France is the third after he dispatched American Jack Sock with a 6-3, 6-3, 6-7 (7), 6-2 victory.
Nadal's loss marks the first time he won't reach a major quarterfinal in a season since 2004.
"In terms of energy, in terms of motivation, I was great," Nadal said. "In terms of tennis, I need more. Of course, (it) was not a physical thing, was not a mental thing.
"Doesn't matter if you go through injuries; doesn't matter if you arrived with less preparation. At the end of the day, nobody remembers that. You lost in the fourth round, and that's it."
Pouille had to fight off Nadal's fierce charge. The underdog was serving to win the match in the fifth set before Nadal broke his service to force the tiebreaker.
Then Pouille held a 6-3 lead in the tiebreaker. Three points later, the match was tied.
"At 6-3, I'm thinking I'm going to win this one. At 6-4, was not the same," Pouille said with a laugh. "Every point was great. Honestly, I'm happy."
Nadal was on the ropes after Pouille won two of the first three sets. The Spaniard recovered with a stellar effort in the fourth set and then remained alive to force the fifth-set tiebreaker.
Pouille took a 3-1 lead in the tiebreak with a backhand shot that landed on the outside line, and he followed with an ace for a three-point edge. However, he hit consecutive shots into the net and then received a break when Nadal's blast down the line was just wide.
Pouille then hit a winner into the corner to set up match point. But he again sent a shot into the net, and Nadal followed with a winner of his own to pull within 6-5. Pouille then failed on his third match point by hitting a shot long.
Nadal had a chance to slam home a go-ahead point but sent the close-range blast right into the net to set up Pouille's fourth match point. This time, after a long volley, Pouille sent the forehand shot down the left sideline that Nadal had no chance of reaching.
Meanwhile, the last American man playing in the U.S. Open was ousted from the tournament.
Sock's bid to be the first American male to make the U.S. Open quarterfinals since 2011 was halted by Tsonga.
Sock, seeded 26th, had just five aces. He remained alive by winning a third-set tiebreaker before Tsonga closed out the match with an impressive performance in the fourth set.
Tsonga has never reached the U.S. Open semifinals. His quarterfinal opponent will be top-seeded Novak Djokovic of Serbia, who cruised past upstart Kyle Edmund of Great Britain 6-2, 6-1, 6-4.
Djokovic won 17 of the 18 points on which he approached the net. He finished with 24 winners and 25 unforced errors, while Edmund compiled only 15 winners while giving away 36 points.
Monfils advanced to the U.S. Open quarterfinals for the third time with his dismantling of Baghdatis.
Monfils also reached the Open quarterfinals in 2010 and 2014. Baghdatis committed 43 unforced errors in Monfils' straight-set victory.
"It's always a pleasure to play against Marcos and you know you always have to play your best," Monfils said. "I think I had to be very consistent with my serve because he's a pretty good returner. I was good on my forehand today, and I was very fast on the baseline. Everything was good today."