Novak Djokovic came through a gruelling four-hour match against Spanish 13th seed Roberto Bautista Agut to reach the last 16 at the French Open, BBC Sport reports.
The 12-time Grand Slam champion was given his toughest test this year but won 6-4 6-7 (6-8) 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 after three hours and 48 minutes.
The Serb, 31, is seeded 20th as he searches for his best form following his return from an elbow injury.
“It was a great test. I had to earn my victory,” said Djokovic.
“The last set was actually the best set that I have played so far in the tournament. I don’t feel too exhausted. That’s the good news.”
He will play Spain’s 30th seed Fernando Verdasco in the fourth round.
Verdasco, 34, earned a shock 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 6-4 win over GrigorDimitrov – the Bulgarian fourth seed and reigning ATP World Tour Finals champion.
After a quarter-final defeat by Dominic Thiem last year, Djokovic returned to Roland Garros not expected to challenge for the title following a year disrupted by an injury which needed surgery after the Australian Open in January.
A lack of action since has resulted in him dropping to 22nd in the world rankings – below Bautista Agut.
But his greater pedigree eventually shone through in a physical encounter on Court Suzanne Lenglen.
The former world number one has now made the last 16 of a Grand Slam for the 43rd time, tying with Jimmy Connors on the all-time list.
Djokovic’s history with the French Open has been a varied one, having suffered three final defeats in 2012, 2014 and 2015 before eventually landing the prize in 2016 – finally sealing his career Grand Slam with victory over Andy Murray.
And he again experienced a range of emotions – delight, disappointment, anger – at Roland Garros in an epic match which ended with two weary players smiling as they hugged at the net.