World number 1 and defending champion Andy Murray is through to the second week at Wimbledon, fighting past Italian Fabio Fognini 6-2 4-6 6-1 7-5 in a captivating third round encounter.

Grass is probably the Italian’s least favorite surface, evident in his poor record at the Wimbledon. Fognini’s best performance here was during the 2014 Championships, where he lost in the third round. Standing in his way today was the two time and defending champion Andy Murray, who also happened to be the defending Olympic champion. Both men were tied 3-3 in career head to head meetings, with Fognini in fact winning their most recent encounter in Rome 6-2 6-4. However, the two have never met on grass, with Murray having quite the accomplished resume on his preferred surface.

Murray was yet to drop a set the entire tournament, disposing of flamboyant German Dustin Brown 6-3 6-2 6-2 in the second round. Alternatively, Fognini defeated Czech Jiri Vesely 7-6(3) 6-4 6-2 in his second round match. The Italian can be a bit temperamental at times, and is arguably one of the more frustrating players to face due to his unpredictability.

There was little room for error to open the first set, and each man held their opening service games rather easily. Fognini’s form dipped inexplicably in the sixth game, where he committed a slew of forehand errors to give Murray the break. His decline in form continued as he was broken again in the eight game, hitting two consecutive double faults to give Murray the first set 6-2 in 29 minutes.

Could Fognini regain the form that saw him rise to the Top 10?

Murray opened the second set with two double faults, giving Fognini a break point which was quickly erased by an ace out wide. Nonetheless, Fognini converted on his next break point with a delicate drop shot. Murray did break back in the subsequent game, thanks again to inconsistent play from the Italian. Fognini seemed to be letting his emotions get the better of him, evident in him smashing his racket to the ground following the break. This seemed to do the trick, as the 28th seed upped his level of play and broke Murray to acquire a 3-2 lead. He then produced some spectacular shot-making, even mixing in a few drop shots; before taking the second set 6-4.

Fognini seemed to tweak his ankle at the start of the third set, and this seemed to hinder his mobility. Murray quickly got the break in the fourth game and raced to a 4-1 lead. At this point, Fognini requested for a trainer and was granted a medical timeout, during which his right ankle was evaluated. He was deemed fit to continue, but was immediately broken to love in his next service game. Murray then claimed the set 6-1, making quick work of the energetic Italian.

After having dropped his first set in the tournament, Murray had roared to a quick comeback.

The fourth set proved to be one of the most exciting and drama-filled sets in the tournament. During the fourth game, with Murray serving at 40-30; Fognini was handed a point violation for visual obscenity. He made what was considered an obscene gesture after losing the preceding point, and the umpire immediately granted Murray the point and game. To his credit, the feisty Italian did not argue much with the umpire. Nonetheless, Murray was broken in the sixth game as Fognini showed displayed some amazing shot-making ability, coupled with precise net play.

With Fognini serving for the set at 5-4, Murray exhibited the dogged spirit and attitude that saw him win two Wimbledon Championships and fought off Multiple set points to break back. He then proceeded to hold his serve, fighting off another set point as the crowd spurred him on. Through sheer will-power and experience, the Scot broke Fognini at 5-5, and then displayed nerves of steel to serve for the match and claim his well-earned victory 6-2 4-6 6-1 7-5 in 2 hours 39 minutes.

Murray showed heart, experience and poise to gut out a well-earned victory over the talented Italian.

Fognini is always a threat regardless of the court surface, and he forced the world number 1 to reach into his reserves and gut out a thrilling victory. Murray is now through to the second week; where he will face Frenchman Benoit Paire in the fourth round.

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