Novak Djokovic was magnanimous in defeat after being stunned by Kei Nishikori in a US Open semi-final at Flushing Meadows on Saturday.
The seven-time grand slam champion was the heavy favourite to progress to a fifth consecutive final in New York, but world number 11 Nishikori produced a stunning display to advance 6-4 1-6 7-6 (7-4) 6-3.
Nishikori looked to have blown his chance when he allowed Djokovic to break back when serving for the third set, but the Japanese recovered to win a tie-break before going on and sealing both the fourth set and a famous victory.
Djokovic, who has developed a reputation for remaining sporting in defeat, was typically gracious in the aftermath.
"He played some great tennis," said the world number one of Nishikori. "I congratulate him for the effort. He was the better player today.
"I think he wasn't using his forehand [in the past] as well as he does now. His backhand is very solid. One of the best double-handed backhands from all over the court.
"He's really aggressive. He's very quick, so he gets a lot of balls back. Uses every short ball to attack. I think now he's [an] all-around player.
"What can I say? Other than that second set my game today was not even close to what I wanted it to be.
"A lot of unforced errors, a lot of short balls. I just wasn't myself."
Djokovic refused to blame the heat on Arthur Ashe Stadium for his defeat, insisting his opponent, who will now feature in his first grand slam final, was simply superior.
"It's the same for both players," he said. "It was not easy to play in these conditions, but also he had more hours spent on the court [prior to the semi-finals]. So it's no excuse.
"I don't want to talk about conditions. It's same for both of us. I think he just played better in these conditions than I did. I just wasn't managing to go through the ball in the court.
"It was tough for both of us. You could feel that obviously we were, towards the end of the match, not moving as well as on the start.
"But, you know, I didn't think that was a particular issue for me. I thought it was just an overall feeling. My strokes just weren't there."