Monte Carlo – Alexander Zverev celebrated his 21st birthday by edging a thrilling battle with French favourite Richard Gasquet to reach the Monte Carlo Masters semi-finals on Friday.
The German third seed came through a marathon final set under the lights just before 9pm to win 4-6, 6-2, 7-5 after two hours and 39 minutes.
Gasquet's hopes of a first Masters semi-final appearance since 2013 were dashed in an incredible finish, and it will be Zverev who takes on Japan's Kei Nishikori in the last four.
The world No 4 is looking for his third Masters title and hoping to bounce back from the disappointment of his final loss to John Isner in Miami.
Gasquet struggled to close out the first set and was broken when 5-2 in front, but did take it in the 10th game on his second set point with an exquisite drop shot.
The 31-year-old saw five break points come and go in the opening game of the second set, and Zverev took full advantage by moving 4-1 ahead.
The birthday boy wrapped up the set with ease to level the match, before breaking in the second game of the decider.
The pair then traded breaks of serve, both of which were sealed by rasping backhands up the line.
Gasquet provided a moment of brilliance to break again, finishing a sublime rally with a magnificent drop volley, only to fail to consolidate it in the following game.
The match looked destined to be decided in a tie-break, but Zverev broke French hearts with a fantastic backhand passing shot to grab his fourth win from four meetings with Gasquet.
Results from the Monte Carlo Masters on Friday (x denotes seeding):
Rafael Nadal (ESP x1) bt Dominic Thiem (AUT x5) 6-0, 6-2
Kei Nishikori (JPN) bt Marin Cilic (CRO x2) 6-4, 6-7 (1/7), 6-3
Grigor Dimitrov (BUL x4) bt David Goffin (BEL x6) 6-4, 7-6 (7/5)
Alexander Zverev (GER x3) bt Richard Gasquet (FRA) 4-6, 6-2, 7-5