Andy Murray put on a performance of extraordinary resilience to come back from two sets down to win in five sets against Fernando Verdasco and book his place in the semi-finals at Wimbledon 2013.
The Spaniard was in inspired form and his forehand was firing, as Murray’s game was disintegrating in a flurry of complaints at himself and his balcony.
In the end the Centre Court crowd were given a classic match as their man pulled himself out of the doldrums to grind out a terrific win and march on.
Murray was the clear favourite coming into the match, but Verdasco was on his best run of form of the season and it certainly showed in some heavy early exchanges from the baseline.
Murray had been going to the backhand as much as possible throughout, but the Spaniard was equal to it and a lack of aggression was leaving the game open to his opponent.
Verdasco’s forehand is extremely powerful and it was the decisive shot in a first set where the British number one did not look at all comfortable.
A rasping winner across court set up 30-40 on the Murray serve at 4-5 and the US Open champion handed the first set to his opponent with a double fault.
Losing the first brought an initially positive reaction out of the home favourite and some more positive play got him a break in early in second set.
However, Verdasco would not go away and kept on hitting winners off his forehand and broke twice as Murray faltered and threw away three break points as his unseeded opponent served for the second set, giving it up with another unforced error.
Another positive reaction from Murray in the third was not so feeting and this time he held off pressure from the inspired Verdasco and began to impose himself on the match.
The pressure told on the Spaniard and he could only win one game in the fourth set as Murray made the first step of what would need to be a long way back.
The Centre Court crowd noise was rising to get behind their man and Verdasco took a toilet break – it was a good decision, as he looked a great deal more composed after seemingly losing his way in the third set.
However, he was not dominating the rallies quite so forcefully on his forehand and Murray was getting on the end of more of the thunderous groundstrokes.
After saving a couple of break point of his own, the crucial moment came in the eighth game of the fourth set when Verdasco had come back from 0-30 down to lead 40-30, but allowed Murray back into it and gave up the break with an unforced.
Murray was left to serve it out for the set and unforced errors from Verdasco, added to some terrific serving, took the game into a fifth set.
At this point the British number one would expect to be in the ascendancy after coming from two sets down, but Verdasco had found the sort of game that had won him the first two sets.
Both men were starting to get into a serving groove and first to blink on service was always going to struggle to get back into the match.
That blink came from Verdasco in the 11th game and Murray took the opportunity with both hands, serving out the match to book a semi-final place against Poland’s Jerzy Janowicz on Friday.