By Julien Pretot
PARIS (Reuters) - Local favorite Jo-Wilfried Tsonga labored past unheralded German Daniel Brands to reach the second round of the French Open with a marathon 4-6 6-3 6-2 6-7 7-5 win on Sunday.
Timely drop shots were enough for Brands to unsettle Tsonga early in the match as the eighth-seeded Frenchman dropped the first set before gradually finding his stride to set up a second-round meeting with compatriot Josselin Ouanna.
It was no stroll in the park for Tsonga with Brands benefiting from a string of unforced errors to level by taking the fourth set tiebreak 7-2.
The German saved a match point in the 10th game of the decider, another in the 12th before bowing out when he sent a backhand long after a three-hour and 43-minute battle.
Tsonga, however, was unfazed by his slow start.
"I am not worried. I played for a long time but I still have two days to recuperate," he told reporters.
"The fact I stayed long on the court could be a good thing because I hit many balls and helped me find some grounds (for the rest of the tournament)."
(Editing by Miles Evans)