Andy Murray reached the Paris Masters semi-finals for the first time on Friday, but it needed a marathon effort to see off the last remaining Frenchman, Richard Gasquet.
The second seed, who had dropped just four games in reaching the last eight, was kept hard at it for two hours 38 minutes before edging into the semis 7-6 (9-7) 3-6 6-3.
Five times previously Murray had fallen in the quarter-finals of the ATP’s regular season finale and he will now play Spanish eighth seed David Ferrer who ended the run of giant American John Isner.
“I think the level during the first set was extremely good,” Murray said.
“After that it was a little bit up and down. But I just managed to hang in at the end after losing the momentum really in the second set.”
The first set against Gasquet, who last beat Murray over three years ago, was a 73-minute cliffhanger.
Murray stormed out of the blocks to lead 3-0, but with his first serve faltering, Gasquet found a way to work his way back into it, levelling at 4-4 after a break to love in the seventh game.
Murray also let slip a 3-1 lead in the tie-break and had to save a set-point at 5-6, but the second seed pushed Gasquet into making errors off his forehand side and he finally edged it 9-7.
It was Gasquet though who looked the stronger and a sloppy game from a frustrated looking Murray gave Gasquet a break to lead 4-2 in the second set.
That proved to be enough for the Frenchman to win the set as he comfortably held serve twice.
There were worrying signs from Murray minutes later as he grimaced in pain after stretching for a return, but he then erased two break points to hold serve.
Two games later, however, there was to be no reprise from the Scot as Gasquet sealed the break with a superb forehand crosscourt drive off a big first serve.
Murray broke back immediately to level at 2-2, however, and with Gasquet visibly tiring, he grabbed the break he needed in the eighth game when the 10th seed netted under pressure.
The win meant that Murray joined Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic as the only players to reach the semi-finals or better at all nine of the Masters 1000 Series tournaments during their career.
Ferrer, who won the 2012 tournament in Paris, looked set for a straight sets canter against Isner as he led 6-3 5-3 40-15.
But the big-serving American, who defeated Federer in the previous round, suddenly found some form with his returns to break back and then draw level at 5-5.
Isner jumped out into a 5-2 lead in the tie-break before Ferrer drew level, but it was the American who levelled the set scores against all the odds.
The effort though took its toll on Isner who dropped serve early on in the decider and then needed lengthy courtside treatment for an apparent dizzy spell.
Ferrer had his second chance to put away the tie and this time he made no mistake winning 6-3 6-7 (6-8) 6-2.