As Louis Armstrong sang, That's Life. And, on the court named after the grand old man of jazz, Andy Murray all but rose from the dead to leave Marin Cilic a bewildered wreck after four sets of wildly contrasting fortunes and advance to his eighth semi-final in the last ten slams.
Murray not only looked gone for all money after an hour and a half, a set and 1-5 down against the 12th seed, but gave every impression of having no idea how to rediscover his dominant form of only two nights earlier, when he destroyed the rising young Canadian Milos Raonic in two hours on the bigger stage of Arthur Ashe.
Wednesday, starting in sunlight in front of a few thousand and finishing in the early evening before a capacity house, Murray won 3-6, 7-6 (4), 6-2, 6-0 in exactly an hour longer than he took to beat Raonic, winning 17 of the last 20 games.
"He played very well at the start and I struggled," Murray said in a staggering understatement. "When I managed to get the breaks back in the second set I relaxed a little bit. I've been in that position before. It was nice at the end when the court filled up."
Murray will now face Tomas Berdych in the semi-final after the number six seed beat Roger Federer 7-6, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.
Murray clearly thrives on the energy of a lively audience and he did not have that while Andy Roddick was attracting all the attention in his farewell appearance on nearby Arthur Ashe. So, for nearly two sets, this was the Murray who lost to Nikolay Davydenko on this claustrophic, tough little arena in the fourth round in 2006, Stanislas Wawrinka in the third round here four years later, very nearly to Robin Haase last year and where he suffered for nearly four hours against Felciano Lopez in the third round - a ghost he and his coach, Ivan Lendl, thought had been buried for good.
Murray did not win a point off his own racket until the third game, having been gifted a double-fault in Cilic's opening service game then being broken to love to trail 0-2 after only six minutes.
Murray was not happy that his match had been switched from Ashe at the last minute because of the rain-driven fixtures jam, given he found the surface on Armstrong in the daytime against Lopez, "much quicker, much tighter" than the main stadium in the cool of the evening.
He hit six unforced errors in the first 10 minutes while Cilic was doing little more than putting the ball back in play, and getting maximum value for his competence. With the points came bravado and the Cilic started banging the lines, stretching Murray and preventing him getting into decent court position.
Cilic held to love to lead 4-1 after just quarter of an hour.
Even Murray's steadfast backhand was malfunctioning, so he could neither relay anxiety over the net or build points with long exchanges, his preferred tactic against players outside the elite. He came to their first meeting in this tournament with six wins from seven matches, although he respects Cilic's talent, which has carried him to 13 in the world rankings, and a 12th seeding here.
If fitness were to be a factor, Murray had to extend the rallies. Apart from the rigours of the Lopez war, he'd dealt with his other opponents quickly, spending just under 10 hours on court; Cilic had laboured for 13 hours and 13 minutes, embroiled in two five-setters and a four-setter before a relatively easy workout over Martin Klizan to reach this stage.
And, when Murray broke Cilic in the seventh game, some of that fatigue was evident, a tired backhand drifting well wide to surrender serve. Ivan Lendl, impassive as always in Murray's box, did not let his chin stray from his left palm, and was as relieved as his player – but not for long.
As has happened to him so many times in the past, Murray dropped serve after breaking – and, in a rare fit of pique, he threw his racket in disgust. He was making life unnecessarily difficult for himself, and Cilic wrapped up the set with a wicked forehand down the line after only 37 minutes.
Murray started the second set with a double fault, clearly out of sorts.
The potency of his serve and the fluency of his ground strokes, so evident against Dodig and Raonic, had all but left the building. It was not all about Murray playing poorly; Cilic was doing the simple things well and the more he witnessed Murray imploding the bigger the bounce in his stride.
There was a glimmer of hope when Murray grabbed break point, but Cilic was playing a lot of his tennis inside the baseline as the muscle seemed to ebb from Murray's refashioned forehand. Could the wrist that ached in soaking up Raonic's booming serves towards the end of their match on Monday be troubling him still?
It was his backhand, though, that failed him. He hit wide and dropped serve. Again. Now he was slipping into serious trouble. About this time on Ashe, Roddick, was hitting the final shot of his career before bursting into tears at courtside after losing in four sets to Juan Martin del Potro. The last American to win a slam, here in 2003, their Andy has gone fishing. Our Andy was drowning.
Then the match swung dramatically Murray's way. Cilic was within a point of a two-set lead, but, 15 minutes later, Murray converted his ninth break opportunity of the set to level at 5-5.
They each held before going to a tie-break, which Murray clinced with a solid backhand, his go-to shot when his tennis is clicking.
Murray rattled his opponent when served out the third set at 6-2 with a 111mph second-serve ace, and the feeling grew around the now heaving Armstrong that he had not only survived his crisis but was powering to a marvellous comeback win.
The deciding stanza went in a blur. What a night.
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image: © Ian Dick