The first four days of Australian Open 2022 felt like the press of a pump, filling a balloon with more and more air each session of tantalising tennis.
There were captivating comebacks, heroic leaders and a web of memorable moments pinged around the globe on social media.
At one point this balloon was going to pop at the ultimate party of tennis and it was Friday. Day 5 delivered and more.
Reporting for ausopen.com on Friday demanded some creativity, there was simply too much to keep across. A couple of computer screens and a phone streaming, that just about covered the unbelievable action and drama unfolding on the show courts.
There was a real crescendo from the afternoon into the night session. Let's start on Rod Laver Arena, where major contenders Victoria Azarenka and Barbora Krejcikova had posted statement wins.
Now, up step Matteo Berrettini and teenage sensation Carlos Alcaraz. The seventh seed was just about managing to keep the ATP Next Gen Finals champion at bay, posting a two sets lead.
However, the 18-year-old stole away the third set, the crowd urging the Spaniard back into the frame. Well, flicking over to KIA Arena and wild card doubles duo Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis were whipping up a wild crowd.
The Australians were going full throttle for the green and gold, clattering the ball against the top seeds Mate Pavic and Nikola Mektic. Every rally won by the home favourites was met with a carnival atmosphere.
Back to Rod Laver Arena, Alcaraz had somehow earned a decider and had the crowd on their feet, saving match point en route to a match tie-break. Berrettini squeezed through with 6-2, 7-6(3), 4-6, 2-6, 7-6[10-5] on the scoreboard. The pair received a standing ovation – it was that kind of contest.
Back to Kia Arena and it was bouncing. There was constant crowd interaction, Kokkinakis with dance moves at change of ends and a Bryan Bros-style chest bump at match point. Kyrgios and Kokkinakis closed out a huge upset 7-6(6) 6-3 over the world No.1 doubles duo.
"Silly atmosphere," tweeted Kokkinakis, leaving Kyrgios to post a carousel of content on Instagram giving a true sense of the Aussie show on display.
"Let this be a reminder…… You only live ONCE, but if you do it right, once is enough," stated Kyrgios. Those in the crowd will remember this day for a long time.
While those two blockbuster matches were finishing, a marquee battle between defending champion Naomi Osaka and in-form American Amanda Anisimova had already begun!
Heavy hitting, pinball rallies, this was a cracker from the get go.
The world No.60 Anisimova was mixing her piercing power and ability to cut the ball short to keep Osaka off strike. The MCA spectators were being rewarded for an awesome, swirling atmosphere with a deciding set.
At this point Ash Barty was already doing her on-court interview over on Rod Laver Arena.
"Night sessions here at the Australian Open are really special," stated the top seed, soaking up the applause from the ardent home faithful. "The experience and the atmosphere that's created in a night session is absolutely brilliant."
The world No.1 was imperious once again, dazzling under the Friday night lights to nullify the firepower of Camila Giorgi 6-2 6-3. Who would the Australian face in the last 16?
Back to MCA and it was exhibition tennis time, this match was escalating. Osaka couldn't convert two match points on Anisimova's serve at 5-4 in the third set. Those two backhand errors proved costly, Anisimova played an assured match tie-break to prevail 4-6, 6-3, 7-6[10-5]. The reigning champion was out!
"I just want to soak in this moment. I'm just extremely happy. It was an amazing match," said the world No.60.
"Here at Australian Open, it's just an amazing atmosphere. This is everything that I train for. I was getting goose bumps in the tiebreaker."
It was a goosebumps kind of day.
Gracious in defeat, Osaka hailed a banner day for the women's game.
"To me, it's exciting. Not the loss itself, but the person I lost to, because it's like showing the growth of tennis," suggested the four-time major winner.
"I feel like now I'm in this position where if I lose to someone, it might make a headline, but I also think it kind of grows more superstars, and I feel like that's good for the game."
This overlapping quartet wasn't Day 5 done and dusted.
There was still time for Rafael Nadal to unleash some outrageous trademark forehands, forced to find an extra gear to defy Karen Khachanov in four sets.
More? Yes. Running parallel to Nadal's match, this clash on MCA took us into Day 6. At 2:33am on the clock, Adrian Mannarino was finally celebrating a gruelling five-hour triumph over Aslan Karatsev.
Day 6 has a hell of a lot to live up to.