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Murray, Nadal, Del Potro and Nishikori all advance to Olympic Quarter-finals

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Defending champion Andy Murray of Britain struggled for a long stretch, but found his game midway through the third set to beat his Italian opponent Fabio Fognini 6-1, 2-6, 6-3 to advance men's singles quarter-finals at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Murray won gold at the 2012 London Olympics, defeating Novak Djokovic and Swiss great Roger Federer in the semifinals and final, respectively, to claim what was then the biggest title of his career.

The second-seeded Scotsman, the gold medal favourite after Serbian world No. 1 Novak Djokovic's stunning first-round defeat at the hands of Argentine Juan Martin del Potro, lost nine of 11 games to drop the second set and go down 3-0 in the decider at the Olympic Tennis Centre on Thursday.

The 2016 Wimbledon champion turned into virtual wall though over the last few games to break Fognini's serve three straight times and claim victory in two hours and seven minutes.

Murray will take on 22nd-ranked American Steve Johnson, a 6-1, 6-1 winner over Russia's Evgeny Donskoy on Thursday, in the quarterfinals.

Three of the top four men's seeds advanced to the singles quarterfinals, with Spanish No. 3 seed Rafael Nadal taking out Frenchman Gilles Simon 7-6 (5), 6-3 and Japanese No. 4 seed Kei Nishikori cruising past the Slovak Republic's Andrej Martin 6-2, 6-2.

Nadal was able to impose his heavy topspin game on the pesky Frenchman, who rallied from a 4-2 deficit in the first set and then put a scare in the Spaniard when he came back from 5-1 down to even the tiebreaker at 5-5.

The Spaniard, despite 28 unforced errors, was able to put the set away in an hour and 15 minutes when Simon hit a forehand over the baseline and then raced out to a 4-0 lead in the second set.

Simon was competitive with the 14-time Grand Slam champion over the last few games, but the deficit proved too great.

In the quarterfinals, Nadal will next square off against Brazil's Thomaz Bellucci, who upset Belgian No. 8 seed David Goffin 7-6 (12-10), 6-4.

In other results, Argentina's Juan Martin del Potro advanced to the quarterfinals with a 6-7 (4), 6-1, 6-2 victory over Japan's Taro Daniel and will next take on Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut, a 6-4, 7-6 (4) winner over Luxembourg's Gilles Muller.

27-year-old Del Potro, who has undergone numerous wrist surgeries in recent years, rolled back the clock here in Rio and shown the form that carried him to the 2009 U.S. Open title.