Rafael Nadal's Australian Open hopes were dashed in cruel fashion as he retired through injury in the fifth set of his quarter-final against Marin Cilic.
Former US Open champion Cilic produced a hugely impressive display on Rod Laver Arena, his stinging, flat forehands a particularly potent weapon throughout a contest that was brought to a premature end after three hours and 47 minutes.
However, the Croatian was significantly aided by a clear deterioration in the fitness of Nadal, whose movement was compromised after he called for a medical timeout in the fourth set.
Although Nadal initially continued after receiving prolonged treatment on his upper right leg, he was ultimately unable to compete and retired when trailing 3-6 6-3 6-7 (5-7) 6-2 2-0.
Cilic will now face surprise package Kyle Edmund in the last four, with hopes of a rematch of last year's final between Nadal and Roger Federer having been sensationally ended.
The seriousness of Nadal's injury remains to be seen, but the top seed cut a forlorn figure as he exited the court to sympathetic applause, a day on from an ailing Novak Djokovic suffering defeat to Hyeon Chung.
Nadal failed to initially capitalise when a succession of Cilic errors provided him with five chances to break in the sixth game, but the world number one soon seized control before sealing the opening set with a forehand winner.
Cilic then fell behind early in set two, double faulting on break point after receiving a time violation, but a swift turnaround followed with the Croatian seemingly fired up by the umpire's intervention.
The aggrieved sixth seed duly reeled off four games in a row to level the match, enjoying particular success against Nadal's second serve as he adopted a more aggressive approach.
Amid rising tension, both men were showing emotion on an increasingly regular basis and a reflex volley from Nadal was followed by a trademark fist pump as he stopped the rot in the first game of the third set with a crucial hold.
After saving three break points and spurning a solitary opportunity of his own when leading 5-4, there was an even bigger reaction when the Spaniard eventually regained the advantage at the end of an absorbing tie-break.
Nadal let out a huge roar to celebrate putting away a smash on set point, but Cilic came storming back once again to break for a 3-1 lead in the fourth.
Out of the blue, Nadal then called for a medical timeout at the next changeover and received prolonged treatment.
His movement was significantly limited thereafter, even though he came from 0-40 down to hold in the next game, and Cilic suddenly looked a strong favourite as he broke again to force a decider.
That final set ultimately lasted just two games, Nadal bringing an end to proceedings after he had bravely saved five break points before finally falling 2-0 down.
Cilic now has a golden opportunity to reach his third grand slam final, while Nadal will await news on another painful injury setback.
Cilic  bt Nadal  3-6 6-3 6-7 (5-7) 6-2 2-0 Ret.
Cilic - 83/62
Nadal - 39/32
Cilic - 20/8
Nadal - 3/2
BREAK POINTS WON
Cilic - 5/19
Nadal - 2/10
FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE
Cilic - 67
Nadal - 75
PERCENTAGE OF POINTS WON ON FIRST/SECOND SERVE
Cilic - 77/38
Nadal - 67/32
Cilic - 157
Nadal - 145
16. Januar 2019
|Murray says he´ll ´probably´ have operation|
|Australian Open tribute for Andy Murray surprises brother Jamie|
|Warriors score NBA record 51 points in first quarter against Nuggets|
|Panthers owner Tepper doesn´t rule out Newton missing 2019 because of shoulder injury|
|De Ligt will be world´s best centre-back – Koeman|
|Ronaldo a ´perfect machine´, says Gattuso|
|Barcelona? I can´t say anything - Stuani|
|Silva upbeat about Man City title chances|
|Celtics youngsters say Irving´s callout ´came from a good place´|
|NFL playoffs: Patrick Mahomes v Tom Brady|
|NFL playoffs: Jared Goff v Drew Brees|
|Sixers sign Brewer to 10-day contract|
|Lozano and Morgan scoop CONCACAF awards|
|Lakers ´optimistic´ about LeBron injury|
|Giants produce mammoth fourth quarter against Nymburk|
|Austin FC to join MLS in 2021|
15. Januar 2019
|Henry, Vieira look forward to reunion when Monaco host Nice|
|Barcelona reject Neymar phone call reports|
|Wentz is the quarterback ´going forward´, says Eagles coach Pederson|
|Gattuso: Higuain has not asked to leave|
|Drew Brees by the Opta numbers: 10 facts for QB´s milestone birthday|
|Harry Kane injury: England captain´s history of ankle woe|
|Harry Kane injury: Opta numbers suggest Spurs struggles|
|Harry Kane injury: Tottenham´s options in striker´s absence|
|Allegri: Supercoppa clash practice for Champions League knockouts|
|First in clean sheets, second to Schmeichel in titles – Cech´s Premier League career in Opta numbers|
|Warrington sign England star Widdop|
|Gatland confident Wales can win Six Nations|
|Fulham sign Netherlands international Babel|
|Harry Kane injury: Games the Tottenham striker will miss|
|Simeone focused on matches, not transfer dealings|
|Iran v Iraq: Pressure off for Queiroz & Katanec|
|Vietnam v Yemen: Kocian keeps the faith|
|Darren Bravo back in West Indies Test side for first time since 2016|
|Kane out until March with ankle injury|
|South Korea v China: Son arrives for Group C dead rubber|
|Kyrgyzstan v Philippines: Eriksson remains hopeful|
|McGrath to miss Six Nations, Sexton nearing fitness|
|Kohli savours Dhoni ´classic´|
|Ford: People obsess over Farrell fly-half battle|
|EFL asks Leeds to explain ´spygate´ scandal|
|No alarms for Djokovic and Zverev, Raonic masters Kyrgios|
|Australia 3 Syria 2: Rogic breaks hearts with stoppage-time winner|
|Palestine 0 Jordan 0: Socceroos winner keeps hopes alive for Lions of Canaan|
|Halep: The results don´t matter any more|
|Hard work for Halep as Serena and Osaka sail through|
|Napoli director to take legal action over ´false´ quotes about Rog move|
|Alexander-Arnold facing absence of up to four weeks|
|Solari: We only have one number nine at Real Madrid|
|Halfpenny & Young named in Wales´ Six Nations squad|
|Crawford v Khan confirmed for April 20|
|Centurion Kohli inspires India to level ODI series|
|Wagner hails Huddersfield togetherness after exit|
|Hughes to join Bristol, Le Roux also leaving Wasps|
|ICC appoints Sawhney as new CEO|
|Forest appoint club legend O´Neill as new manager|
|Halep digs deep to gain revenge over Kanepi|
|Cech to retire at the end of the season|
|Brisbane Roar 0 Melbourne Victory 5: Barbarouses treble sinks Roar|
|´Struggling´ Azarenka breaks down in tears following Australian Open exit|
|Dominant Djokovic coasts through in Melbourne|
|Allardyce admits Huddersfield appointment is ´highly unlikley´|
|Choupo-Mouting: Manchester United have changed|
|Faletau set to miss Six Nations with another broken arm|
|UEFA opens disciplinary proceedings into Chelsea chants|
|Serena´s the greatest ever - Bouchard relishing second-round clash|
|Mbappe can become the new Pele - Pele|
|Wade needs to learn quickly if he´s to make NFL switch a success, says Sanu|
|Azarenka beaten in first Australian Open match since 2016|
|Kings use balanced scoring attack to top Trail Blazers|