Novak Djokovic avoided a huge upset by fighting back from two sets to love down against Italy's Andreas Seppi in the fourth round of the French Open.
The world number one was out of sorts all match but has proved himself a man for the big occasion many times and did so again to triumph 4-6 6-7 (5/7) 6-3 7-5 6-3 after four hours and 18 minutes.
It was the seventh successive five-set match that Djokovic, who has not lost before the quarter-finals of a slam for three years, has won and the third time he has fought back from two sets down in his career.
The cold and windy conditions were far from ideal but there was no sign of the problems to come as Djokovic raced through the first three games.
Seppi had taken only two sets off the world number one in seven previous meetings, although he has been having a very good season and won Djokovic's tournament in Belgrade last month in the absence of the man himself.
Seppi was striking the ball extremely well and a drop in Djokovic's level, with the top seed making an unusual number of unforced errors, saw him level proceedings at 3-3.
And it was to get better from there for Seppi, who had never got past the third round at a grand slam before beating Fernando Verdasco two days ago.
The 22nd seed broke again in the ninth game and then held his nerve to serve out the opening set, saving a break point.
Djokovic had made 17 unforced errors and seemed to be struggling to get his footwork right in the windy conditions, but it was far from a crisis at this point.
The alarm bells rung a bit more when Seppi nailed a backhand winner to break in the fifth game of the second set, but this time he could not serve it out, gifting Djokovic the break back with a forehand over the baseline.
That seemed to be the turning point but Seppi refused to lie down and snatched an extremely tense tie-break when Djokovic netted a forehand.
The Serb was certainly out of sorts but winning four out of five grand slams has given him plenty of confidence that he can dig himself out of tricky situations, although normally against higher-calibre opponents.
Djokovic fought back from two sets down against Roger Federer in the US Open semi-finals last year, saving two match points, and also came through epic five-setters against Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open in January.
He was still struggling, though, and twice gave away breaks in the third set before finally making one stick.
The fourth set resembled the first, with Djokovic getting off to a flier, but he missed the chance to go 4-0 up and was pegged back again.
Another tie-break looked in the offing but this time the 25-year-old managed to seize his moment in the 12th game.
It now seemed a question of when not if and, after Seppi rather donated a break with a tame double fault, a relieved Djokovic finally clinched victory with a drive volley.
The world number one applauded Seppi off the court, and said: "He's in really good form and he played some great matches, won against some really good players here and Rome and won a tournament in Belgrade. He definitely showed why he's difficult to beat.
"I think he was the better player for the first two sets, definitely. I was very fortunate to come through this match.
"I was fighting. When I was two sets down, I believed I could win the match, and I think that's the only positive I can really pick up from today's match.
"It was one of those days where nothing is working really. My serve was good. But aside from that, I could not get into any rhythm."
With six-time champion Rafael Nadal, who celebrated his 26th birthday today, looking in awesome form, Djokovic will certainly need to raise his game for a quarter-final against either Jo-Wilfried Tsonga or Stanislas Wawrinka.
The 25-year-old, who made 77 unforced errors, said: "I won. So I don't need to be disappointed or worried or whatever. I'm in the quarter-finals. That's what matters the most.
"That's something that gives me motivation to continue on and trying to wake up tomorrow hoping for a better day. It was just not a good day. That's what happens in sports. You have good days, you have bad days."