Andy Murray secured his place at next month’s season-ending ATP World Tour Finals in London with a highly impressive victory over Grigor Dimitrov in the third round of the BNP Paribas Masters in Paris.
The 27-year-old Scot, whose hopes of retaining his Wimbledon singles title were crushed by the Bulgarian earlier this year, was in control from the outset and a break in game three ensured that was reflected on the scoreboard.
A second break secured the first set and then, after racing into a 3-0 lead in the second, the world No 8 comfortably saw out a 6-3 6-3 triumph to set up a quarter-final with Novak Djokovic or Gael Monfils.
“It’s nice,’’ said the British No 1, who headed to Paris for the ultimate Masters 1000 event of the season on the back of five straight weeks of tournaments, winning titles in Shenzhen, Vienna and Valencia.
“It’s a great event to be involved in. It’s a fun way to finish the year in London – they put on a great event there, there’s a packed house every time you play, and I’m happy to have qualified.”
Murray’s hopes of breaking back into the world’s top four were also boosted yesterday as Stan Wawrinka – third seed and current world No 4 – lost to Kevin Anderson.
The 14th seed from South Africa fired 18 aces and won 75 per cent of first-serve points en route to a 6-7 (2/7) 7-5 7-6 (7/3) victory over the Swiss.
Australian Open champion Wawrinka has already secured his place at the World Tour Finals, and looked upon his early exit as an opportunity to rest.
Anderson will next face Tomas Berdych after the fifth-seeded Czech advanced to his 13th tour-level quarter-final of the year with a 7-5 6-3 win over 12th-seeded Spaniard Feliciano Lopez.
Berdych can seal his spot in London by reaching the semi-finals.
Fourth seed David Ferrer beat fellow Spaniard Fernando Verdasco 6-1 6-2 to set up a last-eight encounter with Japanese sixth seed Kei Nishikori, who won 6-1 4-6 6-4 against 10th-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
Seventh seed Milos Raonic of Canada overcame 11th-seeded Spaniard Roberto Bautista-Agut 7-5 7-6 (9/7).