Monte Carlo (Principality of Monaco) (AFP) – Andy Murray battled back from the brink of defeat to squeeze into the quarter-finals of the Monte Carlo Masters on Thursday, seeing off Benoit Paire after a bruising three-set encounter.
The British second seed will take on big-serving Milos Raonic in the last eight after the Canadian defeated Bosnian Damir Dzumhur 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (7/5).
Murray recovered 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 he is plagued by doubts.
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 Munich and Madrid fast approaching.
The 28-year-old has produced 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 he lost 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.