An explosion of rage saw Novak Djokovic mangle his racket at Roland Garros overnight, but the former champion proved the fires are still burning as he spent almost four hours battling past Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut to reach the fourth round of the French Open.
The 2016 French Open champion beat Bautista Agut 6-4, 6-7 (6), 7-6 (4), 6-2 at the Suzanne-Lenglen court.
After straight-sets wins over Rogerio Dutra Silva and Jaume Munar in his first two outings at Roland Garros, 20th seed Djokovic overcame world number 13 Bautista Agut 6-4 6-7 (6-8) 7-6 (7-4) 6-2.
Verdasco saved four set points in the opener on his way to a 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 6-4 triumph, with Dimitrov - knocked out in the third round for a second successive year - declaring afterwards he will be taking a break from the sport.
Djokovic celebrated when clinching the affair in three hours, 48 minutes earlier than partaking in a heat alternate with the 13th-seeded Bautista Agut, whose mom died unexpectedly final week.
"Fours hours for the match, I'm a bit exhausted, Bautista Agut plays with too much patience for me, but I'm very happy to have won the match", said Djokovic, who holds a 10-4 head-to-head record over Verdasco. My life is tennis, no? I don't like doing that.
Djokovic took the first set, a slugfest of deuces which lasted nearly an hour, with a solitary break of serve.
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Bautista Agut was playing in Paris despite the death of his mother last week.
"In these kind of circumstances, sometimes emotions get the worst out of you or the best out of you, whatever you want to call it".
'That's the thing I've been doing since a lot of years. It could therefore be another tricky day at the officer for Djokovic but he has shown enough in this past week that he is edging closer to the levels he needs to reach to win Grand Slams again.
Both players were to recover, and in the case of Djokovic there appeared to be a cathartic element to the destruction of his implement, for which he was given an official warning.
"It was a big point", Djokovic explained, "And I managed to come back from being down in the tie-break, and 6-6. But at times, it happens".
Verdasco has now reached the fourth round at Roland Garros seven times, but he has yet to progress any further.