PARIS – Juan Martin del Potro was pushed to the limit before eventually taming Japan’s plucky Yoshihito Nishioka 5-7 6-4 6-2 6-7(5) 6-2 to reach the French Open third round on Thursday.
Joy was etched all over the face of the Argentine when he put away a forehand winner to finally eclipse his opponent after an absorbing match lasting three hours and 46 minutes.
The eighth-seeded Del Potro has twice reached the semi-finals at Roland Garros, including last year, and had plenty of support in overcast conditions on Court Simonne-Mathieu.
However, he found it hard to get going in a first set that saw both players struggle on serve before the 72nd-ranked Nishioka edged ahead and held to open his account.
The 2009 US Open champion Del Potro, more at home on hard courts than clay, settled down in the second, though, and levelled the match with a forehand winner courtesy of a net cord.