Paris: Tomas Berdych and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga were just one win from securing places in the season-ending ATP World Tour finals after they safely moved into the third round of the Paris Masters on Tuesday.
Czech Berdych, who will book his ticket for the Nov. 20-27 event in London if he reaches the quarter-finals at Bercy, dismissed Spaniard Fernando Verdasco 6-3, 7-5, while Frenchman Tsonga, also needing a last-eight berth to qualify, beat another Spaniard, Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, 6-3, 6-4.
Seven players are vying for the three remaining spots for the World Tour finals.
World number one Novak Djokovic, Rafa Nadal, who has pulled out of the Bercy tournament, Andy Murray, Roger Federer and David Ferrer have already qualified.
Fifth seed Berdych will next face either 11th seed Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia or American Alex Bogomolov Jr, while local favourite Tsonga, seeded six, will be up against either Spaniard Nicolas Almagro or Italian Andreas Seppi.
After an early trade of service breaks, world number 23 Verdasco netted a forehand to give Berdych a 5-3 lead in the opening set, the Czech wrapping it up by holding serve to love.
He broke in the third and seventh games of the second set but Verdasco put up some resistance to claw it back to 5-5.
Berdych broke again in the 11th game before sealing victory on his sixth match point with a backhand winner.
Tsonga did not have it all his own way against Garcia-Lopez.
He saved three break points in a 12-minute seventh game in the opening set before breaking his opponent to forge ahead. The Frenchman then fell 4-2 behind in the second set before upping his game to reel off four successive games for victory.
"I`m not really thinking about that (London), no," Tsonga told reporters.
"Bercy is a very important tournament for me. Masters or not, I want to play well here. I know that the surface suits me, and I`m able to have a good result here.”
"The goal for me is really Bercy... The (London) Masters is the icing on the cake. At the beginning of the season, nobody thought I would go (to the World Tour finals), except me, maybe."
American Andy Roddick, the 13th seed, also reached the third round with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Frenchman Julien Benneteau.
French 16th seed Richard Gasquet advanced with a 6-4, 7-6 win against South African Kevin Anderson, winning the tiebreak 7-4 on his fourth match point.
On Wednesday, top seed Djokovic will start his Paris campaign with a second-round meeting with Croatian Ivan Dodig.
Murray and Federer, who have never won the Paris indoor tournament, will also be in action, against Frenchmen Jeremy Chardy and Adrian Mannarino respectively.