Stanislas Wawrinka, Andy Murray Advance at Paris Masters
The third-seeded Wawrinka ended a three-match losing streak with a 6-4, 7-6 (6) win over 37th-ranked Dominic Thiem the youngest player in the top 50 before Murray dispatched Frenchman Julien Benneteau 6-3, 6-4 in his bid to reach the season-ending tournament in London.
Stanislas Wawrinka won his first match in more than a month Wednesday and advanced to the third round of the Paris Masters while Andy Murray moved one match away from qualifying for the ATP finals.
The third-seeded Wawrinka ended a three-match losing streak with a 6-4, 7-6 (6) win over 37th-ranked Dominic Thiem - the youngest player in the top 50 - before Murray dispatched Frenchman Julien Benneteau 6-3, 6-4 in his bid to reach the season-ending tournament in London.
After consecutive losses in Tokyo, Shanghai and Basel, Wawrinka put on an erratic display but prevailed on important points.
"I'm trying to find my confidence," said the Australian Open champion. "I know things can change quickly. I can lose first round, and I can also go very far in a tournament."
Wawrinka closed out the match on his second occasion after the 21-year-old Thiem, who beat him on clay in Madrid in May, failed to convert a set point at 6-5 in the tiebreaker.
It was Wawrinka's first win since he defeated Fabio Fognini in Switzerland's 3-2 win over Italy in the Davis Cup semifinals in September.
Murray converted all three break points and lost only four points on his first serve to claim a 19th win since losing in the U.S. Open quarterfinals. He will need to beat either Grigor Dimitrov or Pablo Cuevas in the next round to qualify for the season finale.
Four berths remain for the taking in the race to London, with six players still in contention to join Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Wawrinka and Marin Cilic from Nov. 9-16 at the O2 Arena.
After missing last year's tournament following surgery on his back, Murray is pushing hard to qualify for the indoor event for the seventh straight year. Over the past five weeks, the Scot won three titles and climbed to fifth in the ATP Race.
Also, seventh-seeded Milos Raonic had 19 aces in a 6-3, 5-7, 7-6 (4) win over Jack Sock, keeping alive his small hopes of securing a spot for the finals. Raonic will be guaranteed a place in London if he wins the title in Paris.
Next up for Raonic is No. 11-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut, who defeated former semifinalist Richard Gasquet 6-4, 6-2.
Although disappointed, Gasquet was relieved to be able to turn his attention to the Davis Cup final against the Swiss next month in Lille.
"I will now be 100 percent focused on the Davis Cup," Gasquet said, "and I'm happy it will be played on clay."