As Rafael Nadal fell in his chair, hands running through his hair, the Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd stood in unison to applaud the Spaniard.
After four hours and 50 minutes of spellbinding tennis, the Spaniard had just rallied to beat Daniil Medvedev 7-5, 6-3, 5-7, 4-6, 6-4 to lift his fourth US Open title and his 19th career grand slam.
Emotions were already running high on an electric night at Flushing Meadows but were then ratcheted up a notch by organizers as a montage of Nadal’s illustrious career was shown ahead of the trophy presentation.
The video, which featured each of his grand slam victories, was met by huge cheers from the crowd and reduced Nadal to tears.
“The emotions sometimes are impossible to control and I tried to resist but it was difficult,” Nadal told CNN Sport’s Don Riddell, speaking of the scenes that followed his victory.
“All those people supporting […] these things make this day unforgettable for me.”
Medvedev, who was cast as the villain for much of this year’s tournament, was equally transfixed by the montage.
The 33-year-old Nadal was made to work tirelessly for the victory by the 23-year-old Russian enjoying the best grand slam run of his career.
After dropping the first two sets to the Spaniard, Medvedev demonstrated not only his world-class shot-making but a mental fortitude that pushed one of the sports’ greatest into a deciding set.
“It was a dramatic match. The match had everything,” Nadal said, still visibly tired from the marathon encounter that lasted almost five hours.
“Medvedev is one of the toughest competitors and one of the best players in the world.”
“If I win, what will they show?” he joked after the match.