June 3 (UPI) -- Kei Nishikori and Benoit Paire's French Open marathon match included many interesting moments, including the ball getting stuck in the throat of Paire's racket during a return on Monday in Paris.
The odd sequence occurred during the fourth set of the 3-hour, 55-minute match, which was delayed by darkness Sunday. The seventh-seeded Nishikori won the round of 16 matchup 6-2, 6-7(8), 6-2, 6-7(8), 7-5 to advance to the quarterfinals.
Paire had a 3-1 lead in the fourth set when he got into a rally with Nishikori. The two players went back-and-forth before they both ran to the net for some close head-to-head returns. Nishikori slammed in a powerful forehand return and Paire went to return the ball with a backhand.
He struck the ball and looked to track its progress before losing it. Paire looked toward the sky to see if it was in the air before finding it lodged in the throat of his racket, the gap just below the netting. Nishikori ended up winning the game point, but Paire won the set in a tie break.
Nishikori faces reigning champion and No. 2 seed Rafael Nadal at 9:15 a.m. Tuesday at Roland-Garros.
"He almost had the match ... I'm just happy the way I came back from 5-3, I think ... I started playing much better from 5-3, playing more aggressive, using my forehand," Nishikori said. "[It was] not easy after losing the fourth set 7-6. I had match point, and I could win in four sets, but somehow I lost the set."
Nishikori is playing in his third quarterfinal at Roland-Garros. He trails Nadal 10-2 in their head-to-head matchups. Nadal is undefeated (3-0) against Nishikori on clay courts and is trying to win his third consecutive title at the French Open.