Andrey Rublev dispatched the last Briton Jack Draper 6-3 3-6 6-3 6-4 to reach the US Open quarter-finals and then go back to the drawing board to figure out a way to clear the next hurdle.
Getting to the last eight is nothing new for the Russian, who has now made it to the quarters of a Grand Slam nine times but on each occasion so far that is where his journey has ended.
Rublev has run into a quarter-final brick wall at three US Opens, tripped up by Rafael Nadal in 2017, Daniil Medvedev in 2020 and Frances Tiafoe in 2022.
Compatriot Medvedev could again be the obstacle he needs to navigate with the 2021 US Open champion taking on Australian Alex De Minaur later on Monday for a quarter-final spot.
"I don't want to think about my game, to be honest, because I feel I'm playing well, and that's the most important thing," said Rublev. "That's why I don't want to pay attention to the game and to put extra pressure on me.
"I feel the ball well. I played good match today."
Rublev was a one-man French wrecking crew on way to the quarters by disposing of lucky loser Arthur Cazaux, Gael Monfils and Arthur Rinderknech before facing Draper.
The British left-hander arrived in New York unsure if he could compete after suffering a small tear in his shoulder that forced him out of the Winston-Salem tune-up event but in the end was the last Briton still on court.
Draper, into the fourth round of a Grand Slam for the first time, came on court to battle and split the first two sets.
But in the third Rublev's big match experience and quality began to show, as did Draper's frustrations, as the Russian confidently claimed the next two sets and the match.
"In the third set I started to listen to my team and I started to also realise that, yeah, I was doing everything right," said Rublev. "I was playing well, I had everything under control. "I just needed to get back to that mood."