Signs that Fabian Marozsan could strike some red-hot form at the Rolex Shanghai Masters were already prominent.
At the ATP Masters 1000 tournament in Rome earlier this year, the 24-year-old Hungarian pulled off one of the season's biggest upsets with a straight-set win over Carlos Alcaraz in the second round.
Ranked world No.132 at the time, Marozsan had qualified to make his main-draw debut at any ATP-level tournament; world No.2 Alcaraz, on the other hand, had already constructed a 30-2 win-loss record in 2023.
The surprise in Marozsan's sensational run in Shanghai, however, is that he's barely competed on a hard court. The Rolex Shanghai Masters is only his second hard-court tournament at ATP level - not that you'd know it, by the way he has played.
Marozsan, the world's No.91 player, didn't drop a set in his first three rounds at Qi Zhong Stadium - including against No.11 seed Alex de Minaur - before he claimed a second win over a top-10 player as he eliminated Casper Ruud in the fourth round.
"Maybe it's the good weather or maybe it's a good court," he pointed out after his 7-6 3-6 6-4 win over the world No.9 Norwegian on Center Court. "The crowd is amazing here, so maybe just the feeling is coming, and I'm just enjoying the tennis."
Enjoying the game is something the Hungarian has done since he first picked up a racquet as a five-year-old. Having never experienced any other sport, Marozsan related, it quickly became a case of love at first sight.
"I learned everything from my father. He plays tennis before, and now he's just supporting me from home," he said. "He's watching all the matches that I'm playing."
As he developed his game on the clay-courts of Budapest, it's unsurprising that another childhood hero was Rafael Nadal. "I think one of the best players in the world is, of course, Roger (Federer)," Marozsan said. "But my hero is Nadal, Rafa Nadal."
Describing himself as "good junior player", Marozsan steadily grew in confidence as he set about gaining rankings points. With a first ATP Challenger Tour title won in Banja Luka in August last year, the then 22-year-old made his top-200 debut.
The gains this year have been swift, Marozsan winning two more Challenger titles and making his Wimbledon and US Open debuts.
The Rolex Shanghai Masters is clearly the biggest highlight; as a quarterfinalist, he's the first Hungarian player to progress so far since 1990 when the Masters Series tournaments first started. "I think it means a lot for Hungary," a proud Marozsan said, the Hungarian No.2 men's player behind Martin Fucsovics.
As he successfully executes his crafty tennis - including the signature drop shot - Marozsan is cherishing every moment at Qi Zhong Stadium, where he celebrated his 24th birthday on Sunday.
"This is just only my second Masters tournament, so it's kind of a new tournament series for me. I'm just very happy to be playing here and try to do my best every time," he said.
Moving to world No.65 in the live rankings, Marozsan is poised to improve on his previous-best world No.82 ranking. And as he prepared for a quarterfinal with Hubert Hurkacz, the softly spoken Hungarian was pleased to reflect on how far he had come.
"I'm just really happy to be the top 100, it's a great result. I was just dreaming about this when I was young," he smiled. "I think everybody's dreaming about this when they started to play tennis."