Andy Murray saved seven match points in a 31-minute second-set tie-break before beating Philipp Kohlschreiber in the Dubai Championships quarter-finals.
The world number one needed eight set points to edge the German 20-18 in the tie-break and level the match.
No men’s tour-level match has featured a tie-break with more than 38 points since 1991 – six have finished 20-18.
Murray then raced to victory in only 30 minutes in the final set to win 6-7 (4-7) 7-6 (20-18) 6-1.
The Briton, who said he had “never played a tie-break like that in my life”, will face Lucas Pouille or Roger Federer’s conqueror Evgeny Donskoy in the semi-final.
Fernando Verdasco and Robin Haase will meet in the other last-four tie.
A marathon tie-break
Murray, who is playing his first tournament since his fourth-round defeat at the Australian Open in January, looked out of sorts in the first set and served two double faults as he lost the tie-break 7-4.
The 29-year-old broke early in the second and seemed to be cruising, but Kohlschreiber, who was scoring consistently with his forehand, had other ideas and broke back as the Scot served for the set.
It was the German who faltered first in the tie-break and Murray had four set points before Kohlschreiber went ahead at 9-8.
A stubborn Murray played some inspired tennis to stay in the match, including a stunning cross-court drop shot to save the first match point, while the German sent numerous groundstrokes wide on further chances to secure the match.
In the end Murray was able to capitalise on Kohlschreiber’s wastefulness to level.
Kohlschreiber capitulated in the final set as Murray broke twice to race to victory in a set that lasted a minute less than the second set tie-break.
Wildcards should not be given to players returning from doping bans, says world number one Andy Murray.
Russia’s Maria Sharapova has been given wildcards for tournaments in Stuttgart, Madrid and Rome after her 15-month suspension ends next month.
“I think you should really have to work your way back,” Murray told the Times.
“But most tournaments will do what they think is best for their event. If they think big names will sell more seats, they’re going to do that.”
Five-time Grand Slam winner Sharapova was banned for two years after testing positive for meldonium in January last year, but that suspension was reduced in October to 15 months following an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Wimbledon organisers face the potential dilemma of whether to hand the 2004 champion, who no longer has a world ranking, a place in this year’s tournament in July.
“She has an opportunity to try to improve her ranking up until that point and potentially not need a wildcard,” Murray said of Sharapova, who he played alongside at the International Premier Tennis League.
“But then if she doesn’t, that becomes Wimbledon’s decision and how they want to play that. I’m sure they’ll think long and hard about it and how they feel people will view it and then make the right decision for them.”
Gabas went to Ottawa General Hospital as a precaution, but no damage to the cornea or retina was found. On his return to France he had an X-ray, which revealed a fracture of the orbital bone under his left eye.
“I am now concentrating on rest and rehabilitation so I can be back on court in the near future,” said Gabas.