Andy Murray (Getty)
Rio de Janeiro - Defending champion Andy Murray survived a huge scare to reach the Olympic Games quarter-finals on Thursday, coming back from 3-0 down in the deciding set to defeat Italy's Fabio Fognini.
Second seed Murray, bidding to become the first player to defend an Olympic singles title, came through 6-1, 2-6, 6-3 and will face American 12th seed Steve Johnson for a semi-final spot.
But it was an uncomfortable day for the world number two who had been in complete control of the tie in the early stages.
He raced to a 5-0 lead in the first set, courtesy of two breaks, as 29-year-old Fognini threatened to implode, angrily crashing his racquet into the surface of the centre court.
The Wimbledon champion broke for 2-1 in the second set before the momentum of the match dramatically shifted.
Fognini won the next five games to pocket the set and level the tie.
The Italian, ranked 41 in the world, has a history of upsetting the established order in tennis -- last year, he sent Rafael Nadal crashing out of the US Open from two sets down.
And he was proving to be just as unpredictable on Thursday as he stretched to a 3-0 lead in the decider, having captured eight successive games.
Murray stopped the rot with a service hold and retrieved the break for 2-3.
Fognini began to crack, lost his composure and a relieved British star triumphed, having claimed six games on the spin.
However, his 48 unforced errors will be a cause for concern as he eyes a title repeat.