Andy Murray must come back on Sunday to try to finish off Philipp Kohlschreiber after play was suspended for darkness at 7-7 in the fifth set of their third-round match at Roland Garros.
The pair followed a crazy five-set match between Gael Monfils and Fabio Fognini onto Court Suzanne Lenglen and produced just as many twists and turns.
After three hours and 27 minutes they were tied at 3-6 6-3 6-4 4-6 7-7, with Murray having fought back from a set down to lead only to make a mess of the fourth when the match seemed in his grasp.
It is the first time the Wimbledon champion has been extended beyond 6-6 in a non tie-break set in his career and, given he seemed to be the one struggling physically, the break may prove to be no bad thing.
Murray had looked in decent nick in his first two matches but this was clearly a step up.
Kohlschreiber is a dangerous player, particularly on clay, and he came into the match on a six-match winning streak after winning a tournament in Dusseldorf a week ago.
Both men saved two break points in their opening service games and it was Murray who struck first with a break to lead 2-1, but the Scot was furious with himself when he gave back the break as Kohlschreiber levelled at 3-3.
The momentum was now with the German and, with Murray not moving particularly well, Kohlschreiber made it four games in a row with another break.
That left him serving for the set and, although Murray saved four set points, on the fifth he netted a backhand volley.
Murray did not have fond memories of his only previous meeting with Kohlschreiber on clay in Monte Carlo four years ago.
On that occasion he won only three games, was jeered off court and at the time labelled it one of the worst performances of his career.
Murray needed a fast start to the second set and he got it, taking advantage of a lapse of concentration to break Kohlschreiber in the second game.
He was trying to be more aggressive, and he needed to be because he was not chasing down shots as well as he usually does.
Like in the first set, Murray gave away his serve three games later, this time on a double fault, but he responded by breaking again immediately for 4-2.
And this time he held onto his advantage to level the match.
Murray looked more comfortable having taken the set and played one of his best points of the match to break Kohlschreiber for 3-2 in the third with a lovely backhand drop volley.
The Wimbledon champion was certainly moving more freely and holding serve more easily, with Kohlschreiber not able to force a break point, and Murray took his fourth set point.
He should have won the fourth as well, and with it the match, but contrived to allow his opponent back in.
Murray led 3-0 and then 4-2 but each time gave the break back and, after he missed a chance to lead 5-3, Kohlschreiber broke for a third straight time and served out the set to love.
As he had in each set, Murray made a fast start to the decider, but once again Kohlschreiber responded and there was a worrying moment for the seventh seed when he pulled up and grabbed at his left hamstring.
He appeared in serious trouble when Kohlschreiber broke for 3-2 but this time it was Murray's turn to respond immediately.
The Scot called the trainer to massage his right thigh after holding for 4-3, and then his left thigh when he made it 5-4.
The pressure was on Kohlschreiber as the man serving second and at 5-6 and 15-30, Murray was two points away, but he could not take advantage.
In the next game Murray was staring down the barrel at break point but played three good points to hold, yelling and pumping his fist to urge himself on.
He might have grabbed victory at the last but missed a backhand that would have given him match point and, when Kohlschreiber held, play was called off at 9.39pm local time.
Meanwhile Jamie Murray's French Open run came to an end as he and Australian partner John Peers were well beaten by Bob and Mike Bryan in the third round of the men's doubles.
Murray was playing in the third round at Roland Garros for the first time but defending champions the Bryan brothers are the dominant force in doubles.
And the American top seeds needed just 49 minutes to wrap up a 6-3 6-1 victory.