Paris: Czech Republic number one Tomas Berdych is one win from sealing his ticket to the World Tour Finals after easing into the quarter-finals of the Paris Masters on Thursday.
Following a first round defeat at the Valencia Open last week, the 29-year-old Berdych evened his record against Spaniard Feliciano Lopez at six wins apiece with a 7-5, 6-3 victory behind the back of a 70 per cent first serve percentage and eight aces.
Chasing an 11th ATP title, and third of the year, the Australian Open semi-finalist now plays South African 14th seed Kevin Anderson for a place in the semi-finals.
Victory for Berdych would guarantee his place in the eight man field in London which begins on November 9 although he could still qualify depending on results elsewhere.
Anderson won a marathon thriller over Swiss third seed Stan Wawrinka 6-7 (2/7), 7-5, 7-6 (7/3) in a match that lasted just under three hours.
Wawrinka was serving for the match at 5-4 up in the deciding set only for Anderson to break the Swiss serve to level again at 5-5.
Anderson held easily and then wasted two match points against Wawrinka`s serve as the match went to a decisive tie-break.
Anderson, who had never been past the third round in Paris, dominated the tie-break and finally converted his third match point to set up the meeting with Berdych.
"It was a great match and some of my best matches have been against Stan," said a delighted Anderson.
"I fought well out there and was in trouble at 5-4 down but suddenly I was back in front again so I`m very, very happy.
"It`s going to be a big challenge (against Berdych) but I`m not going to worry about that just yet. I`m going to enjoy this win and later tonight I`ll start thinking about tomorrow (Friday)." added Anderson.
British two-time Grand Slam winner Andy Murray is next on centre court and can also seal his seventh appearance at the World Finals if he can overcome the challenge of Bulgarian dangerman Grigor Dimitrov.
Dimitrov, along with Canada`s Milos Raonic are the only players who can gatecrash the top eight, and he needs to at least reach the final at Bercy to have a chance.
In other third round matches, world number two Roger Federer chases a 14th straight victory, including tournament wins at Basel and Shanghai, as he takes on unheralded Frenchman Lucas Pouille who has come through the draw as a qualifer ranked 176 in the world.
Federer came through a tough three set match on Wednesday before taming Frenchman Jeremy Chardy and needs to keep his streak going to keep the pressure on Novak Djokovic in their battle for the season-ending number one spot.
The winner of that match will face either Raonic, who needs to win the tournament to guarantee a spot at the O2 Arena, or Spanish 11th seed Roberto Bautista Agut.
Kei Nishikori, the sixth seed, is also firmly in the running for London and can take a step further towards being the first Japanese player to reach the Finals if he can defeat French number one and 2008 Paris champion Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
World number one Novak Djokovic is last on court and will face flamboyant Frenchman Gael Monfils in what should be a spectacular match in front of a frenzied Parisian crowd in the evening.