Paris – Argentina's Juan Martin del Potro held his own with red-hot world No. 2 Novak Djokovic Friday in their much-anticipated third-round encounter at the French Open, rallying from down a set to even the score at 3-6, 6-3 before the match was suspended by darkness.
Originally scheduled for the main stadium, the match had to be moved to the Suzanne Lenglen court due to the length of an earlier contest.
The first set began with two long games that took 14 minutes to play, but the Serbian star then put his full repertoire of weapons on display to break Del Potro and then serve out the set a few games later.
The Argentine, however, took a 3-1 lead in the second set after Djokovic dropped serve due in part to a double fault and then came up with some clutch serving to stave off two break points and even the match at a set apiece.
The match, which got underway well after 7:00 p.m., was suspended after an hour and 36 minutes of play due to darkness and will resume on Saturday.
Djokovic entered the match with a 41-match winning streak and could tie the Open Era record set by Del Potro's countryman, Guillermo Vilas (46), if he wins the tournament.
The Serb also has won 39 matches to start the season and could break the record held by American John McEnroe (42) by reaching the final.
The 22-year-old Del Potro, who won the 2009 U.S. Open and climbed to as high as No. 4 in the world, saw his ranking plummet after undergoing wrist surgery last year. He also suffered a hip injury earlier this month, but recovered in time to compete at Roland Garros.
In another third-round men's singles match Friday at the French Open involving a Latin American player, Brazil's Thomaz Bellucci suffered from blisters during his loss to Frenchman Richard Gasquet 6-2, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.
Among the Spaniards, seventh-seeded David Ferrer continued his strong play by trouncing Ukrainian Sergiy Stakhovsky 6-1, 6-1, 6-3, Albert Montañes defeated Russia's Mikhail Youzhny 6-1, 7-6 (7-0), 6-1 and Guillermo Garcia Lopez lost to Italy's Fabio Fognini 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-1.
In the women's draw, Argentina's Gisela Dulko scored one of the biggest upsets of the tournament by defeating 2010 finalist Samantha Stosur of Australia 6-4, 1-6, 6-3, while Spaniard Nuria Llagostera Vives fell to Russia's Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.
The five-time champion, who struggled with his game in the first two matches, will try to reach a higher level when he takes on Croatia's Antonio Veic in the third round.
The French Open is one of tennis' four Grand Slam events and the only one played on red clay.