Rafael Nadal was made to go the distance before he could dispatch Lucas Pouille 4-6, 7-6(6), 7-5 at the China Open in Beijing.
Nadal was limited to breaking Pouille just once all through the match as the Frenchman was playing at the top of his game, making 46 winners compared to his 47 unforced errors.
Prior to this encounter both players had only met once, with Pouille defeating Nadal in a five-set thriller during the fourth round of the 2016 US Open.
The Spaniard has now won all of his last eight matches, including seven that led to him winning the US Open.
Nadal will next face #NextGenATP Karen Khachanov, who defeated Chinese wild card Di Wu 6-4, 6-2 to advance to the second round.
On the WTA tour in beijing, Maria Sharapova claimed her second consecutive three-set victory at the China Open on Tuesday, as she outlasted fellow Russian Ekaterina Makarova, 6-4, 4-6, 6-1, to advance to the third round.
It was an expected victory for Sharapova but the fact that it went down the wire was a bit of a surprise. Especially because six of her seven victories over her had come in straight sets.
Sharapova will face World No.2 Simona Halep of in the round of 16. This is the second time both players will play against each other in less than two months; they both met during the first-round at the US Open this summer.
Sharapova currently boasts of a seven match unbeaten run against Halep.
The last time Sharapova participated at the China Open was in 2014 and she won the title.