Novak Djokovic passed his toughest test yet against Roberto Bautista-Agut since his return from injury but not after taking out his frustration on his racket.
The former world number one started well as he claimed the opening set 6-4. He then raced into a 3-0 lead in the second, but somehow lost composure to let the Spaniard back into the set.
In the tiebreak at 6-6, Djokovic missed a simple forehand that hit the netcord and flew wide, and responded by hammering his racket into the ground three times and writing it off completely, drawing whistles from the crowd as he went to grab a new one.
“It was a big point and in these kind of circumstances emotions get the better of you,” he said.
“I’m not proud of doing that to be honest. I don’t like doing it, but at times it happens.”
The super Serb however, went on to win the next two sets to get past the dogged Roberto Bautista-Agut 6-4 6-7 7-6 6-1 after 3 hours and 48 minutes.
“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 earned a shock 7-6(4) 6-2 6-4 win over fourth-seeded Bulagrian and reigning ATP World Tour Finals champion, Grigor Dimitrov.
Second seed, Alexander Zverev survived a scare against Damir Dzumhur to also reach the Last 16 for the first time in Paris.
The 21-year-old, who’s bidding to become the first German man to win the French Open in 81 years, triumphed 6-2 3-6 4-6 7-6(3) 7-5 in nearly 4 hours of nerve-jangling tennis.
Elsewhere, Japan’s Kei Nishikori came through in straight sets against Frenchman Gilles Simon, winning 6-3 6-1 6-3.
Nishikori will now face Austrian seventh seed Dominic Thiem, who defeated Italy’s Matteo Berrettini 6-3 6(5)-7 6-3 6-2.
In the women’s draw, fourth seeded Ukrainian, Elina Svitolina suffered a shocking defeat to Mihaela Buzarnescu of Romania, who had not won a Grand Slam match before this week in Paris.
Svitolina, who only last week won the Italian Open title, was beaten 6-3, 7-5 by the world number 33.
“Today, really, I was off and couldn’t find my rhythm, my game. I was really struggling,” said Svitolina.
“On the other hand, she was playing great tennis. She was really, really on the ball.”
Meanwhile, second seed, Caroline Wozniacki thumped France’s Pauline Parmentier 6-0 6-3 and will next face Russian 14th seed Darya Kasatkina, who beat Maria Sakkari of Greece 6-1 1-6 6-3.