Andy Murray was in convincing form as he glided into the quarter-finals of the Paris Masters on Thursday, and in doing so clinched his place at the end of year "banquet" that is the ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 Arena. He joins Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Stan Wawrinka and Marin Cilic as the men already certain of featuring in London next month.
A comfortable straight sets victory over Grigor Dimitrov was perhaps slightly unexpected, given that the same man had trounced Murray (also in straight sets) at Wimbledon in the quarter-finals earlier in the year. However, the British number one's form has been on an upward curve recently with three titles in just 5 weeks, and he demonstrated his undoubted ability yet again with a 6-3, 6-3 victory against the upcoming Bulgarian, who now can not gain automatic entry to the season ending event.
Murray was out of the blocks quickly against Dimitrov, breaking him in the first set to lead 2-1. With his first serve firing well and his return of serve looking well grooved, the first set was his after his opponent double-faulted as the pressure from the Scot paid off. An early break in the second set put him in command and despite Dimitrov responding late on, Murray held on for the victory with something to spare.
Top seed, Djokovic now faces Murray in the last eight and the Serbian will be buoyed not just by his good form after beating Frenchman Gael Monfils in the third round, but also by the recent birth of his newborn son, Stefan. Interestingly, Djokovic and his wife, Jelena, named their first born not as a homage to the #Tennis great, Stefan Edberg, but rather because of the symbolism the name evokes in their home country, with the name a popular choice among their first royals.Djokovic has extra incentive to overcome Murray, as he is under pressure from a resurgent Federer for the number one spot in the World rankings. Should Federer take the title this week and the Serb fail to make the final, then the Swiss legend would return to number one ahead of London.