Paris: Kei Nishikori became the first Japanese man to reach the last 16 of the French Open in 75 years on Saturday when he defeated Benoit Paire of France 6-3, 6-7 (3/7), 6-4, 6-1 in a third round match.
Emulating the feat of Fumiteru Nakano in 1938, 13th seeded Nishikori will next attempt to match his march into the 2012 Australian Open quarter-finals, but he will likely have to get past seven-time champion Rafael Nadal to do so.
The Florida-based Asian star broke Paire twice in the first set, while dropping his own serve once, but he then quickly found himself a break down in the second against the Frenchman who has enjoyed a strong claycourt season.
With both men struggling to hold serve, Nishikori battled back to 2-2 and there was a further exchange of breaks to get to 4-4.
Paire was left furious when he was hit with a penalty point for coaching at set point up on the Nishikori serve at 5-4, but he drew level in the match by easily taking the ensuing tie-break.
But it was Nishikori who looked the stronger as they got deep into the third set, with Paire struggling to stay the pace.
The Japanese player took that 6-4 and he raced away with the fourth against a visibly tiring Paire to reach the fourth round of a Grand Slam tournament for the third time at the age of 23.
Nadal will be next up for Nishikori should the defending champion defeat Italy's Fabio Fognini in a third round tie scheduled for later in the day and he has failed to beat the Spaniard in their four contests to date.