Scotland's Andy Murray came back from the brink to overturn no.15 seed Viktor Troicki 4-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 7-5 on Tuesday. Two sets all overnight, the Serb had Murray where he wanted him, serving for the match at 5-3, 30-0, but was unable to see it out in the face of some brilliant backs-to-the wall hitting from the fourth seed.
Andy Murray and Viktor Troicki cooked up a storm on Suzanne Lenglen Court this lunchtime, leaving the fans gasping with a breathtaking display of gung-ho tennis. In a thrilling one-set decider packed with memorable exchanges, Troicki seized the initiative and found himself on the verge of a famous victory, only for Murray to stun him with a ferocious fight-back.
Back from the edge not once but twice
Yesterday's four-set tie had been a rollercoaster affair too, only on a more drawn-out scale, with Murray starting slowly as he nursed his sore ankle, threatening briefly in the second, and then appearing out of it at two sets and a break down. He came back from the edge then - levelling at two sets apiece before night fell - and did it again today, only in more dramatic fashion.
Having come so close, twice, to a first Grand Slam quarter-final, Troicki is left with regrets at not showing the clarity of thought and action to put Murray away, especially today, when he played such great tennis. Things were looking so good for the 25-year-old. Showing no sign of nerves, he was beating Murray at his own game of solid serving, clean hitting, clever choice of drop-shots and superb defence.
Right at it
Unlike yesterday, Murray was focused and firing from the off, but with Troicki matching him stroke for stroke, games went with service until at 3-2 the Serb scrapped to deuce and with Murray missing, grabbed the break.
The clouds were gathering overhead and when Troicki held for 5-2, things were looking dark for Murray.
Though he then held for 5-3, when Troicki moved to 30-0 on his own serve, Murray's fate was nearly sealed.
So near, yet so far
Nearly, but not quite, because not only is the Scot a born fighter, he also has the technique to pull things out of the fire. Nearly, but not quite, because as any club player will tell you, there is nothing as hard as winning those last two points, when you are so close to a breakthrough win.
Credit must go to Murray first and foremost though. Troicki did get tight, but only after the Scot had turned the tide, firing unbelievable bullets to both corners, dropping short balls dead and showing all the maturity that comes with being one of the four best players in the world.
Four straight points, the last a gifted drop shot into the net by the wavering Serb, had Murray back at 5-4. He held for 5-5 then jumped all over Troicki's failing serve, and nerve, to race to 0-40. The Serb saved two break points but found the net on the third and suddenly Murray was ahead 6-5.
Though Murray gave up three match points from 40-0, a big service, finally, at deuce, and a superb cross-court backhand pass on his fourth match point brought him victory.
In Henman's footsteps
The Scot really will need to rest that ankle now before he takes on Juan Ignacio Chela in a French Open quarter-final, just as his compatriot Tim Henman did back in 2004. The Brit won that match, and even diminished by his ankle strain, Murray will be favourite to do so too, at which point a semi-final against Rafael Nadal or Robin Soderling beckons.