Even when 29-year-old Mischa Zverev stepped up to serve for the match against the world number one Andy Murray, it didn’t quite seem possible what was about to happen.
A serve-volleyer, who before this tournament had never reached the fourth round of a Grand Slam, had outplayed, and outwitted the best player in the world for over three and a half hours on the Rod Laver Area, as Murray’s Australian Open hopes hung by a thread.
Surely, he would be feeling a little nervous, surely Murray would have chance to break back. Barely, as the German closed out the match to record a remarkable 7-5 5-7 6-2 6-4 victory.
Serve-volley makes a return
Zverev’s tactics were clear, charging to the net at every opportunity, and Murray, who never underestimates any opponent, will have known how the German was going to play before a ball was hit.
Yet, time and time again Zverev charged forward, springing from one side of the court to the other, guarding the net as if his life depended on it.
Not even Murray, with his exquisite passing shots and relentless returns, could find a way through and at one stage in the fourth set he bayed out “how is this happening”.
The surprise was how Zverev’s level rarely dropped and even from the baseline he competed with Murray, breaking the Brit’s serve an astonishing eight times in total.
However hard he tried, Murray just couldn’t hit through Zverev, whose chipped backhand regularly nullified the Brit’s attack.
At 29 Zverev is no new comer to the tour and his career, to this point, has been blighted by injuries.
Over the last few years the German has been supporting his younger brother Alexander, who pushed Rafael Nadal to five sets on Saturday, however this was Mischa’s time to take the limelight.
Murray can't close out the first set
Murray was a break up twice in the opening set and served for it at 5-3, however the German’s unorthodox style regularly unsettled the world number one.
Zverev played without fear or pressure as he managed to win four games in a row to take the first set, finishing with an ace.
The second set followed a similar pattern, with Murray claiming an early break before being pegged back to 4-4.
Eventually he began to pick holes in the German’s valiant defence at the net, as he levelled the match at a set apiece, breaking the Zverev serve to 0.
From there the 15,000 spectators and millions watching on TV expected Murray to sail into the distance, yet that was far from the case.
Zverev's level rarely drops
Zverev broke the Brit’s serve to 0 at 2-2 in the third set, punishing Murray’s second serve with some punchy returners down the middle of the court.
It was a tactic which took the angles away from Murray, who surrendered his serve again two games later.
Even at two sets to one down Murray remained the favourite, and there have been many matches in the past where he has comeback from the brink of defeat.
However, he was surprisingly flat at the start of the fourth set, and it proved fatal as Zverev broke to take a 2-0 lead.
Still it seemed inevitable that there would be another opportunity for Murray, that Zverev’s serve would eventually crack.
It didn’t, and the German closed out the closed out the match without facing a break point in the fourth set.
It’s a result which didn’t seem possible but Zverev played the match of his life and deserved his reward.
He will now play either Roger Federer or Kei Nishikori in the last eight.
Evans' run comes to an end
Elsewhere on the Hisense Arena Dan Evans’ remarkable run was ended by Frenchman Jo-Wilfred Tsonga.
Evans, who beat Marin Cilic and Bernard Tomic to reach the fourth round of a major for the first time, went down 6-7 (4-7) 6-2 6-4 6-4 to the 12th seed.
The Brit saved four break points in the opening set before clinching it on a tie break.
However, Tsonga’s pressure eventually told at the start of the second set, as he raced into a 4-0 lead before levelling the match.
Evans lost his serve early in the third and fourth set, as Tsonga ruthlessly capitalised before closing out the match in two hours and 53 minutes.
The Frenchman will play Stan Wawrinka in the quarter-finals.