Andy Murray booked a place in the fourth round of the French Open with a courageous 6-2 6-3 6-2 victory over Michael Berrer this afternoon, but it came at a considerable cost.
All seemed well as the world number four dominated the opening set, with the only frustration that he was not winning the match even more easily against an opponent ranked 95th in the world and playing in the third round of a grand slam for the first time.
However, in the fourth game of the second set Murray went over on his ankle and it immediately became clear he was in serious trouble.
He opted to battle on, though, and, thanks to a combination of some superb attacking tennis and an opponent who did not know how to take advantage of the situation, advanced to a last-16 clash with Viktor Troicki.
The first set was straightforward for Murray, who broke in Berrer's first service game and then again in the eighth game, with the German showing himself to be gutsy but limited.
He battled well to save six break points in a mammoth second game of the second set lasting 17 minutes but all too soon the German was serving again and Murray quickly raced to three more break points.
Once more Berrer dug deep, although the Scot's tally of only two break points taken from 14 chances was not a statistic he would be proud of.
However, all that paled into insignificance on the next point when, chasing another drop shot, he rolled his right ankle.
Murray immediately shouted in pain and hopped to the side of the court before lying down on the clay. He managed to walk gingerly back to his seat for treatment but the expression on his face indicated he thought his campaign was over.
Swelling was visible but the trainer strapped up the joint thoroughly and the 24-year-old returned to the court break point up.
The Scot knew to expect plenty of drop shots - as he had dished out to an injured Gilles Simon in Monte Carlo - but he retrieved the first one to move into a 3-1 lead. He was clearly severely hampered, though, and did not win a point on his serve in the next game.
Murray screamed in frustration, his only hope now to go for his shots and try to shorten the points as much as possible. Fortunately for him it was a tactic his opponent did not seem able to cope with and the fourth seed broke again.
He was still limping badly and grimacing constantly but his superior talent enabled him to serve out the set.
Murray's weight of shot was the reason he remained even in contention for a place in the fourth round, and he was certainly being helped by Berrer, who seemed to have been affected just as much as his opponent by the situation.
The German inexplicably served a double-fault to hand Murray a break in the opening game of the third set, and amazingly the 24-year-old then made it three games in a row.
Ironically, he was playing the sort of attacking tennis his critics have long been demanding, and Berrer must have been wondering just how the match was getting away from him so fast.
The German was complicit in his own downfall, though, giving a demonstration of how not to play against an injured opponent, and Murray served out a quite remarkable victory.Reuse content