Andy Murray last night said he all but gave up on the third set of his French Open third-round victory over Marcos Baghdatis after recovering to reach week two at Roland Garros for the second successive year.
Murray was romping away at two sets to love before suffering a monumental mid-match slump which saw him lose seven straight games and gift his opponent a route back into the contest.
But after going a break down in the fourth set on a sunny Suzanne Lenglen Court, the 23-year-old finally woke up to win 6-2 6-3 0-6 6-2 in two hours and 33 minutes and set up a last-16 clash with Tomas Berdych.
Murray shrugged off what could have been a more costly blip, saying: “I didn't play a very good set — that was it.
“That's all that happened.
“I didn't play well, made mistakes. He hit the ball well and that was it. I played a bad set. I'll try to focus on the rest of the match, which I thought was very good.”
The world number four found himself 4-0 down in the third set when he began to think about the prospect of a fourth.
“I just got off to a bad start and got broken a couple of times,” he said. “It's not like you're not trying. At double-break down, when you're a couple of sets up, you want to make sure that you have fresh legs for the end of the match.”
If that was the plan, it initially backfired as Murray immediately went a break down in the fourth. But he recovered to win six of the next seven games, a similar feat to that which he pulled off during his second-round victory over Juan Ignacio Chela.
“At the beginning of the fourth set, once I got the break back, I started hitting the ball a lot better,” he said. “He's a great shot-maker and very unpredictable.”
Roger Federer was pleased with his form but Rafael Nadal felt there was more improvement to come from himself as both secured straightforward victories.
Defending champion Federer produced a near-identical performance to his opening two wins to ease past Julian Reister in the third round. Yet again, world number one Federer did not have it all his own way in the first set on Suzanne Lenglen Court, wasting seven break points early on.
But he then reeled off nine games in a row on the way to a 6-4 6-0 6-4 win, setting up a last-16 clash with 20th seed Stanislas Wawrinka or Fabio Fognini. Federer said: “With my own form, I'm very happy. I'm ready to mix up my game playing aggressive.”
Four-time champion Nadal made short work of Argentinian Horacio Zeballas in a second-round match that was postponed from Thursday due to the rain. His 6-2 6-2 6-3 success set up an intriguing third-round meeting with 28th seed Lleyton Hewitt today.
“I improved a little bit, I played a little bit better. But sure, not perfect,” said Nadal, who had a brief wobble in the third set. “It's always important to play a little bit better every day.”
Hewitt needed five sets to beat Denis Istomin 1-6 6-3 6-4 2-6 6-2 in a topsy-turvy affair. Third seed Novak Djokovic had few problems dispatching Kei Nishikori 6-1 6-4 6-4 and will face Victor Hanescu (31), who beat Yuri Schukin 6-3 6-4 6-2.
On a hectic day of catch-up for second-round matches, ninth seed David Ferrer progressed after Xavier Malisse was forced to retire at 6-2 6-2 2-0 down. There were also wins for seventh seed Fernando Verdasco, 22nd seed Jurgen Melzer, 2003 champion Juan Carlos Ferrero (16), Nicolas Almagro (19) and Philipp Kohlschreiber (30). The only shock saw 12th seed Fernando Gonzalez dumped out 6-3 6-4 6-3 by Oleksandr Dolgopolov Jr.
Ivan Ljubicic (14) and Thomaz Bellucci (24) both won matches which were level at one set all when suspended on Thursday. Ljubicic survived with a marathon 6-2 6-7 (8/10) 4-6 6-1 10-8 victory over Mardy Fish, while Bellucci also needed five sets to beat Pablo Andujar 1-6 6-3 2-6 6-4 6-2.