Andy Murray survived a scare at Wimbledon on Friday but eventually overcame volatile Italian Fabio Fognini in four sets with a dramatic surge to dig himself out of trouble.
The British defending champion triumphed 6-2, 4-6, 6-1, 7-5 on Centre Court, winning five consecutive games in the fourth set and saving five set points to book himself a spot in the fourth round.
Murray struggled to find his rhythm throughout the match or read what was his third unpredictable opponent in a row after Alexander Bublik and Dustin Brown.
The world number one faces France´s unseeded Benoit Paire on Monday for a place in the quarter-finals.
“I served it out really well to finish. But it was a very up and down match. I didn´t feel like it was the best tennis at times. It was a little bit tense but I managed to get through,” Murray said.
“It´s obviously difficult when you´re playing a guy who has all of the shots like him. He generates power with very short swings. It´s difficult to see when he´s going to hit the ball big. He was taking me out of my rhythm.
“It was also getting dark towards the end. We would probably had to have come off and closed the roof had I lost that fourth set so you´re thinking a little bit about that as well, a change of conditions and a 20-minute break to think about things before playing a fifth set. So obviously pleased to get off in four.”
Murray had been struggling with a hip problem before Wimbledon but insisted it had not flared up and hampered him during his third round match with 28th seed Fognini.
“I feel ok. I didn´t feel like I moved as well as I did in the first couple of matches but I´ve got a couple of days´ break now where I can work on that and hopefully get myself in a good rhythm over the weekend and come out and play some good tennis on Monday,” he said.
“I´m happy to get through the first week and anything can happen from now.”
Fognini was docked a point for obscene behaviour. After losing a point, Fognini responded by sucking on his finger.
It was deemed an obscene gesture by umpire Damien Dumusois and, having already been warned for abuse of his racket, Fognini was docked a point and lost the game.
Fognini, one of the more combustible players on the tour, already owns the record for the biggest single fine in Wimbledon history after being penalised $27,500 in 2014.
“He won. That´s sport. But it´s OK,” said Fognini. “Right now I don´t feel really happy but I´m really happy about my performance, my tennis.”
Federer and Djokovic take centre stage
Centre Court fans at Wimbledon will be hoping to see a bit more of Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer on Saturday when they play back-to-back third round matches.
The last time Djokovic and Federer played successive matches on tennis´ most famous stage, fans were left short changed as both of their first-round opponents quit midway through the second set with injuries.
Latvia´s Ernests Gulbis, once a top 10 player but now ranked 589th, and Germany´s Mischa Zverev are unlikely to disappear quite as easily however, and are likely to pose the first real tests to Djokovic and seven-times champion Federer.
Women´s top seed Angelique Kerber has been finding her grasscourt feet following her struggles in the first half of the season and will be hoping to continue her resurgence against American Shelby Rogers.
Agnieszka Radwanska, runner-up here in 2012, will open Centre Court proceedings against Swiss Timea Bacsinszky.
Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will be back to complete the fifth set of his encounter against Djokovic´s 2016 conqueror Sam Querrey. (AFP)