Defending champion Andy Murray survived another scare to reach the Olympic singles semi-finals after being pushed to three sets by American Steve Johnson in Rio. Murray set up a meeting with either Gael Monfils or Kei Nishikori in the last four with a 6-0 4-6 7-6 (7-2) but flirted with a premature exit for the second match in succession.
Fabio Fognini almost dumped Murray out at the last 16 stage, but the British number one looked on course for a routine victory after taking the opening set 6-0 as Johnson appeared pre-occupied with the faulty Hawkeye, which he demanded by turned off. The world number 22 rallied however to level the match as Murray's rhythm was disrupted by supporters entering Court One at inopportune times.
Johnson had previously only once recorded a victory over a top 10 player and was braced to improve that record as he broke Murray in game seven of the deciding set, as the Scot's frustration threatened to boil over. But the three-time grand slam winner showed his fighting spirit by breaking back and then holding off a break point to lead.
Murray went within two points of victory but Johnson closed the door with a nerveless hold only for the pressure to ratchet back up on the Californian as he was called on to serve to stay in the contest for a second time. Again the Team GB flag bearer went within two points of a valuable win, however Johnson ensured a tie-break would decide who would progress.
Belatedly, Murray's class showed as he grabbed a mini break to lead 4-2 at the changeover, despite Johnson producing a fine backhand pass. However, the reigning champion produced a run of points at just the right time, confirming the win with a virtuoso overhead volley, to stay alive in the Brazilian capital.