For over seven years, Novak Djokovic has not faced defeat at as early a stage as the third round of a Grand Slam. That run ended on Saturday, as Sam Querrey finished the job that he had begun so wonderfully-well on Friday, beating the world number one, the holder of all four Grand Slams, the undisputed best men's tennis player in the world, in four sets.
Querrey went into the second day of the match, after it had to be postponed owing to bad weather on Friday, with a two sets to love lead, and while the American looked like he might buckle under the pressure, with Djokovic finding his bearings in the third set, that proved to be just a minor hiccup in a fantastic 7-6 (8-6), 6-1, 3-6, 7-6 (7-5) victory in a shade under three hours.
"It's incredible, especially to do it here at Wimbledon," a happy-as-punch Querrey said after handing Djokovic his earliest exit in a Grand Slam since the 2009 French Open. "I'm so happy and ecstatic. I think today I played the break points really well.
"I was able to come up with a big serve, fought in the tie-breaker and was able to force a couple of errors.
"You saw he came out and got the first four games. I had to regroup. He's on his way to being possibly the best ever so I knew he was going to come back."
The pace of Djokovic's serve was down, the backhand was non-existent and that ridiculous steel that he is associated with, and which has given him title after title over the past few years, went missing against Querrey, who blasted his way to the first two sets, before staying calm under pressure in the fourth set tie-breaker.
Querrey had failed to grasp the first match point, on Djokovic's serve, but the second one, on his serve, would not get away, as Djokovic caved under the pressure, firing a forehand wide to give the No.28 seed one of the biggest wins of his career.
"Congratulations to Sam, he played a terrific match, he served very well," Djokovic told reporters. "Part of his game was brutal today, he made a lot of free points with his first serve. He overpowered me."
With the defeat, Djokovic's hopes of completing a calendar Grand Slam ended, but the Serbian insisted on focussing on the positives, of which there are plenty, considering he won four majors in a row, albeit in two different years.
"I believe in positive things in life," Djokovic, who hinted at not being 100% fit, added. "I managed to win four Grand Slams in a row. I want to focus on that instead of failure.
"I don't want to take anything away from my opponent today. He deserved to win. I wasn't feeling the ball as well as I wished."