Alexander Bublik sank to a straight sets defeat to Jannik Sinner in the Miami Masters quarter-final before saying the Italian was so good he doesn’t even seem human.
The Kazakhstani put in an enviable performance himself, and threw everything including underarm serves at 19-year-old Sinner to try to overcome him.
Sinner, though, refused to buckle, leading to Bublik saying to him on court following match point: “You are not a human, man. You are 15-years-old [sic] and you play like this. Good job.”
That praise continued after the match too, with Bublik continuing to be awe-struck with what he had witnessed.
“He’s not [human],” he said of Sinner. “That’s a fact.
“I asked him if he’s a human or not, because for me, it’s very surprising that the guy at his age has this mental toughness that many, many other players don’t have.
“I called him a robot a couple of times during the match, but I do it in a very sincere way because he’s a really, really a great player.
“I played him in a very crucial moment in the tie-break, and [he] pulled off [two] incredible shots when it was 5/4.
“Every time when I had a big point, either I needed to go super crazy like I was doing with the forehand and just [go for a] shot that goes in with a five per cent chance, or he’s playing really unbelievable.
Jannik Sinner is the eighth teenager to reach the Miami semi-finals, with five of the other seven going on to become world number one.
He will now face Roberto Bautista Agut in the semi-finals, with him guaranteed a new-career high ranking of at least number 24 in the world next week.
For more exclusive content from Tennisbuzz, including news, features, trivia, promotions and more, please be sure to sign up for our newsletter below or via our home page.
Why not test your tennis knowledge by tackling one of our fiendish quizzes too?