The fourth seed was tested in the early stages by a stubborn Tursunov but stood firm to progress 7-5 6-7 (7-9) 6-2 6-4 and make history.
His 12th last-16 appearance at Roland Garros betters the 11 achieved by Argentina’s Guillermo Vilas and keeps him on course to reach his fifth French Open final.
Tursunov, seeded 31st, started well against the Swiss maestro, who came into the match in fine form, having not dropped a set at the tournament.
He matched Federer game for game but was crucially broken in the 12th when he first misjudged a lob at 15-30 before hitting a forehand long.
Despite faltering at the key moment, Tursunov continued to pressure Federer in the second set and served well, forcing a tie-break.
Tursunov trailed in the tie-break 4-1 but responded superbly, and although he dropped a set point, he did enough to level the match.
Federer recovered quickly, breaking at the start of the third set, as he significantly upped his serving.
The world number four ” who hit 15 aces and won 80 per cent of points on his first serve ” added to his early break with another in the seventh.
He lost just two points on serve for the entire set and he carried that momentum into the decider, which also saw Tursunov required treatment for a troublesome thigh injury.
Federer could only convert one of his eight break points in the fourth set, but that was enough, as he set up a clash with Latvian Ernests Gulbis in the last 16.
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