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Johnson had beaten Yuichi Sugita over five sets in his opening match, a gripping encounter that started on Sunday and had to be finished on Monday.
The No25 seed admitted after that encounter that he had found it difficult to keep his feelings in check.
"Just a lot of the emotions. You know, my dad he was such a big part of my tennis life, just an emotional time. Yeah, it's not about tennis right now," Johnson said.
"The pain and trying to get through it, it’s just hard.
Steve Johnson battled Borna Coric in a highly emotional French Open clash
Steve Johnson sunk to his knees after the final point of the match
"Probably one of the harder matches I’ve played."
And Johnson was again tested physically and mentally in his second round match from which he eventually emerged a 6-2, 7-6(8), 3-6, 7-6(6) victor.
The American had been given a harsh point penalty ball abuse late on in the fourth set, a decision that saw the match delayed as he argued the toss with the chair umpire who saw his hitting the ball away as an outburst of anger.
"I know I broke a racket and it's the same rule," Johnson said.
"But that's not even an attempt at anger.
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"It's not an attempt at anything."
The incident came at a crucial moment in the set but Johnson was not to be denied, closing out the fourth set tie-break to win a dramatic match.
Coric promptly shattered his racket on the court in frustration before storming off the court with his equipment, smashing a water bottle on the ground.
Johnson meanwhile was completely overcome by emotion and was seen sobbing at the net with his head in his hands.
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"I just miss my Dad," Johnson choked through tears in a post-match interview.
"I wish he was following along.
"I know he is from upstairs but it's just so emotional.
"It's hard to describe.
"I knew he was looking down on me in that last point and it gave me the strength to finish it off.
"Physically I'm okay. Emotionally I'm a mess.
"I know this is what he always told me to do: be a fighter and be a competitor.
"It's the only thing I can do."
He will now face No6 seed Dominic Thiem in a testing third-round match.