LONDON // Andy Murray broke Wimbledon's curfew to keep his hopes of a home victory alive after edging past Marcos Baghdatis in SW19's latest-running match.
But the Scot was not at his best as he battled to a 7-5 3-6 7-5 6-1 win over the Cypriot under the Centre Court roof.
Murray secured his victory at 11.02pm (02.02 GST), exceeding the previous record of 10.58pm set by Novak Djokovic and Olivier Rochus two years ago. The official curfew is 11pm, which is the time their final game began.
"It was tough conditions," he admitted afterwards.
"I was really struggling. In the first couple of sets I was creating a lot of chances but I wasn't feeling comfortable. I struck the ball a bit better under the roof.
"It had it on the screen that the match can't be played past 11pm. I asked if we had one more game so when I broke I thought we wouldn't be able to play on."
Murray has been deemed to be the main beneficiary of Rafael Nadal's shock loss two days ago but his path to the final is hardly looking smooth.
The latest hurdle was posed by Baghdatis, a semi-finalist here six years ago. The Cypriot was a danger and only in the late stages was he dominated by Murray.
Of added intrigue to the contest was the factor that Murray's former coach Miles Maclagan now works with Baghdatis.
The pair had shared their six previous meetings but Murray had won three of the last four, including both since Baghdatis began working with Maclagan.
And the British number one was playing within himself in tricky breezy conditions, and he often found himself on the back foot in rallies.
The Scot took a tumble in the seventh game and seemed to be feeling his right shoulder, and he had more problems when Baghdatis brought up two break points.
But Murray saved both, one with the coolest of drop shots and the second with a running forehand pass that was initially called out but Hawkeye showed to be in.
Murray's chance arrived in the 11th game, and he took his second break point when Baghdatis pushed a forehand wide.
The Scot then served out a cagey set with an ace after exactly one hour.
The players were then called off court at the end of the set, at 9.04pm to allow time for the roof to be closed, with the match to continue under lights.
Play resumed at 9.40pm.
Murray had strapping on his left knee, presumably as a result of one of his numerous falls.
But the Scot came out with a positive attitude and began the third set by serving three aces in the first game.
The indoor conditions had changed the match and Murray was hitting with much greater freedom. He brought up two break points in the fourth game, celebrating with a fist pump to the delight of the noisy crowd, but he could not take either.
Baghdatis, who took a set off Novak Djokovic at the same stage last year, took heart and promptly brought up three break points of his own, and, unlike his opponent, he took one, powering a winner onto the line.
The Cypriot had hit a real purple patch, but Murray dug deep to hold his serve and then, despite yet another fall, broke back when Baghdatis netted a rather tame forehand.
The tension was extremely high, and it ramped up even more when Murray faced another break point after being penalised for a ball popping out of his pocket for the third time in the match.
But his serve saved him, the Scot letting out a great roar and then an even bigger one when he finally nailed a backhand pass down the line to clinch the set 7-5.
Baghdatis folded wretchedly in the fourth set, which began at 10.36pm, and the winning moment came when he lobbed a forehand well over the baseline.
"He started playing better at the end of the second," Murray said of his opponent afterwards.
"I was making some more mistakes, but I still had a lot of chances as well.
"I had 0-40 at 2-2 and then I got broken. Then I had break-back point and 0-30s and I wasn't getting them. So the stop probably helped me.
"I think the quality of tennis improved under the roof. Obviously I'm glad that I managed to get the win. And the atmosphere at the end was excellent."
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