Nishikori's middle-of-the-night magic

NEW YORK -- If the early bird gets the worm, the patrons who stuck around for the end of the Milos Raonic-Kei Nishikori classic got a head start.

In a hard-hitting match at the US Open, Nishikori finally stopped his Canadian opponent in five hair-raising sets. The match ended at 2:26 a.m. ET, tied for the latest end in the history of this tournament.

Late-night tennis is a tradition at the Open, even if the majority of the fans bailed before the match ended. But Raonic and Nishikori battled until the bitter end, and now the 10th seed finds himself into his first quarterfinal in New York. It should also be pointed out that Nishikori's coach, Michael Chang, lost the longest-ever US Open match, a 5-hour, 26-minute semifinal brawl with Stefan Edberg in 1992.

So what were the latest-ending matches here in New York?

2:26 a.m. ET: Kei Nishikori def. Milos Raonic, 4-6, 7-6 (4), 6-7 (6), 7-5, 6-4, fourth round, 2014

Nishikori not only had to contend with an ailing foot, but he also had to figure out how to overcome Raonic's monster serve. The Canadian crushed 35 aces, but as the match wore on, he looked sluggish. Though it was a thrilling win for Nishikori, the biggest winner might be his next opponent, Stan Wawrinka, who was most likely sound asleep as this epic ended.

2:26 a.m. ET: Philipp Kohlschreiber def. John Isner, 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, third round, 2012

If ever Isner were going to be a hater, Kohlschreiber would be on the receiving end. This match didn't start until after 11 p.m. local time, and the German, as he has for three straight years here at the Open, beat Isner, this time in five sets.

2:26 a.m. ET: Mats Wilander def. Mikael Pernfors 7-6 (3), 3-6, 1-6, 7-6 (6), 6-4, second round, 1993

It wasn't Wilander's finest day on the tennis court. As a matter of fact, he played downright sloppy, and afterward he summed it up succinctly: "I feel like s---." Needless to say, Wilander dropped his next match in straight sets.

2:14 a.m. ET: Younes El Aynaoui def. Wayne Ferreira, 3-6, 7-5, 7-5, 7-6 (3), fourth round, 2002

These two had a good excuse for missing their curfew. The start time at the US Open had been waylaid until 6 p.m. after rain soaked the grounds for seven-plus hours. Perhaps the best part of this match was that it was played on Court 4, a small, intimate venue nothing like the cavernous Arthur Ashe stadium.

2:11 a.m. ET: Rafael Nadal def. Mardy Fish, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4, 6-2, quarterfinals, 2008

Almost as notable as the late finish was the fact that with the win, Nadal advanced to the semifinals in New York for the first time in six attempts. It helped that Fish committed 53 errors in the match, 34 more than his Spanish opponent.

1:51 a.m. ET: David Ferrer def. Rafael Nadal, 6-7 (3), 6-4, 7-6 (4), 6-2, fourth round, 2007

If you like grunting and furious hitting, and we know you do, you would have been a big fan of this match between the Spanish countrymen. Nadal was bothered by an ailing knee throughout the US Open, and at the time, conventional wisdom said he didn't have the chops (or the health) to win on hard courts.