Paris Masters: Wawrinka “Regaining Confidence”, Murray Closer to London

Third seed Stanislas Wawrinka advanced into the third round of the Paris Masters courtesy of straight sets win over Austrian prospect Dominic Thiem.

Second seed Roger Federer was made to work for a 7-6(5) 6-7(5) 6-4 win over France’s Jeremy Chardy.

The 2011 champion, who is bidding to replace Novak Djokovic as the world number one, dropped the second set but closed out the contest in a more dominant fashion in a third set tie-breaker.

The Swiss No. 1 will face 20-year-old Frenchman Lucas Pouille, who saw off a fiery Fabio Fognini 7-6(5) 7-6(7) in the evening session on Wednesday.

Pouille will be hoping for his third win at tour-level against the 17-time Grand Slam winner, who is looking to bridge a 490 points gap between him and Djokovic.

Eighth seed Andy Murray dominated France’s Julien Benneteau to remain on track for the ATP World Tour Finals showdown berth.

The Scot, 27, fifth in the Race for London, converted his only break point opportunity and blasted two aces to Benneteau’s none en route to an emphatic 6-3 6-4 win.

Up next for the four-time quarter-finalist in Bercy is Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov, who sailed past Uruguay’s Pablo Cuevas 6-0 6-3 later on Wednesday.

Murray will be assured of a place at the World Tour Finals at the O2 Arena in London next month if he could equal his best run at the tournament with a win over the 9th seed- 11th in the race for the season-ending tournament.

“I was hitting the ball well,” Murray said. “The conditions are very different from Valencia last week (referring to his epic final with Tommy Robredo), it’s playing faster, the points are quicker.

The second round win is Murray’s 19th in his last 21 matches and his fifth in all five meetings with Benneteau.

It has been a busy end of 2014 for the Briton, who is playing in his sixth tournament in as many weeks and remains pragmatic in his race for the final showdown.

“If I get to London, I’ll be very pleased because I’ve worked very hard these last two weeks and won some tough matches,” he added.

Australian Open champion, Wawrinka, who has already qualified for the season-ending WTA World Tour Finals, emerged the better of two powerful one-handed backhanders.

Thiem fought back from a 2-4 deficit in the tie-break, but could not convert a set point opportunity at 6-5, allowing the third seed to seal a 6-4 7-6 (7-6) win in one hour and 36 minutes .

Wawrinka came into Wednesday’s match-up with the 21-year-old on the back of three first round losses. Friday’s last 16 tie with 14th seed South African Kevin Anderson is just the first of a tight schedule for the Swiss with the Davis Cup final against the French squad on the card.

Wawrinka said: I’m still trying to regain confidence. I felt like I had been practicing well and have been able to train normally so I was just missing a few match wins really. I never panicked (after losing three straight sets).

“I’m here to go as far as I can. It’s a busy schedule but I don’t feel much pressure, unlike last year [when he was vying for a spot in London].

Stanislas Wawrinka Says he is Regaining Confidence Following Three First Round Losses. Image: Getty.
Stanislas Wawrinka Says he is Regaining Confidence Following Three First Round Losses. Image: Getty.

“I’m hoping to accomplish big things before Lille (the Davis Cup final).”

Canada’s Milos Raonic maintained his push for a maiden qualification for the ATP World Tour Finals by outlasting qualifier Jack Sock to advance.

The seventh seed topped a 6-3 5-7 7-6(4) tussle with Sock- his sixth straight win over the American. Raonic is currently tenth in the Race to London.

“I know what I need to do (to qualify for the ATP Tour Finals), but it’s too dependent on other guys, so I’m just very much focused on myself,” Raonic noted. “It’s not like if I do well I have a safe spot.”

“I felt like I did a good job in that tie-break. I got ahead one point [at 2-1 in the tie-break] and then just really took care of my service points.”

Raonic meets Roberto Bautista Agut in the third round, following the 11th seed’s win over 2007 semi-finalist Richard Gasquet. The Spaniard sealed a 6-4 6-2 win over Gasquet to complete his 45th win of the year.

Fourth seed David Ferrer retained hopes for a final showdown appearance with a 6-3 2-6 6-3 win over David Goffin in a second round match he described as “very tough.”

Spaniard Feliciano Lopez raced to a 6-4 6-4 win over American Sam Querrey to book his place in the third round.

The last Frenchman to win in Bercy Jo-Wilfried Tsonga defeated Austria’s Jurgen Melzer 6-2 4-6 6-2.

Tsonga will play either Spain’s Spain’s Tommy Robredo or Japan’s Kei Nishikori in the third round.

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