Murray struggles past Paire in Monte Carlo
Andy Murray fought though a roller-coaster finish to squeeze into the quarter-finals of the Monte Carlo Masters on Thursday, posting a narrow 2-6, 7-5, 7-5 win over Benoit Paire.
The second-seeded Scotsman will take on the big serve of Milos Raonic in a Friday quarter-final after the Canadian defeated Bosnian Damir Dzumhur 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (7/5).
Murray made a recovery from a set and two breaks down in the second set as he turned the tide in stuttering fashion against the Frenchman, who admitted this week that his tennis is plagued by doubts and a serious case of nerves.
He proved that point by double-faulting for the eighth time on a Murray match point to end the struggle after more than two and a half hours.
Murray stands 5-4 over Raonic, and defeated the Canadian in an Australian Open semi-final in January.
“It was an unpredictable match,” Murray said. “He’s very talented, I had to keep fighting in the second set.
“We both had our opportunities but I played just that little bit more solid at the end.”
Paire ended with 52 unforced errors and 47 winners as he and Murray faced off for the first time.
Murray is under pressure this clay season, with title defences in both Munich and Madrid fast approaching.
The 28-year-old has shown only modest results so far in 2016, a season interrupted for almost a month by the birth of his daughter in February only a few days after losing the Australian Open final to Novak Djokovic.
Murray remains the highest seed in contention this week in the Principality after Djokovic was knocked out in his opening match by Czech Jiri Vesely.
Murray, a 2009 and 2011 semi-finalist, is into his third quarter-final of the season. He has now won his last 11 matches against Frenchmen since losing to Gilles Simon in Rotterdam quarters in February, 2015.