Rain delays Murray
Originally published on: 26/02/10 12:25
The match was moved to the top of the order of play after bad weather delayed the start of proceedings for five hours but the British number one must have wish he had stayed in the locker room when they did finally get under way.
Italian qualifier Fognini raced into a 5-0 lead but Murray dug deep to level before taking an astonishing tie-break 13-11. He then won the opening game of the second set and will resume leading 7-6 (13/11) 1-0.
Fognini is ranked outside the top 100 but is a clay specialist and served notice of his threat to the top players with victories over Tomas Berdych and Marin Cilic in the opening two rounds here.
And the 21-year-old, who played Murray many times as a junior, appeared determined to extend his run as he raced into a 3-0 lead.
Fognini was displaying superb touch and a lovely drop volley gave him the advantage in the fourth game as he claimed another break. The British number one, who has never reached a clay court quarter-final, was struggling for ideas, the consistent tennis that has served him so well this year having little effect against Fognini.
Murray finally got on the board in the sixth game, although not without again being taken to deuce thanks to a thumping Fognini return. And the Scot kept alive his albeit slim hopes of winning the set by breaking his opponent for the first time in the next game.
Murray began to give his shots a bit more air, resulting in some errors at last from the Fognini racquet. The first signs of doubt from the Italian began to emerge as Murray created another break point in the ninth game, which he duly took to remarkably get back on serve.
And one game later he was level at 5-5, although he needed to show all his battling qualities as Fognini upped his game again. The world number 108 stopped the rot to inch ahead again but Murray held firm to make it 6-6 courtesy of a bizarre net exchange that Fognini should have won.
In keeping with the set, the tie-break was a scrappy but dramatic affair. Fognini had three set points but again Murray refused to lie down and the Scot gradually got the upper hand before clinching the game 13-11 on his fourth chance.