Fabio Fognini has survived a major meltdown to progress to the quarter finals of the ASB Classic.
The second seeded Italian showed tremendous fight – as well as all of his trademark emotion – to beat German Peter Gojowczyk 6-2 3-6 7-6 (5) in 124 minutes.
In a tournament where five seeds have already packed their bags, the 31-year-old was dangerously close to joining them.
He fended off break points late in the third set, and then was down 2-4 in the final set tiebreak, as he was fighting all kinds of internal battles.
World No 60 Gojowczyk, who reached the quarter finals in Auckland last year, played well above his ranking to push the Italian to the limit, though he was his own worst enemy.
The world No 13 was all over the place mentally in the final set, smashing his racquet into the ground on two occasions and later leaving it in the far corner of the court just before a change of ends, before a ball kid retrieved it for him.
This, coupled with some obscene language, saw the umpire run out of patience and Fognini received a code violation from the umpire, which meant that his opponent Peter Gojowczyk started the next game 15-0 ahead.
It was an entertaining match, one of the best so far in this tennis fortnight.
Fognini started like a freight train, taking the first set with relative ease as he broke twice.
The second set turned, as Fognini was almost impotent in his returning game.
He only won five points on the Gojowczyk serve in the entire set, which enabled the German, courtesy of one break, to level up the match.
The third set was the best of the match so far; with brilliant shot making, great drama and all kinds of antics from Fognini.
He prevailed in the end – just thanks to a forehand crosscourt winner on match point – then slumped in the courtside chair to do the post match interview.