AP Sports Writer
PARIS (AP) — Roger Federer was made to fight all the way by local favorite Jeremy Chardy before reaching the third round of the Paris Masters on Wednesday, while Andy Murray moved one match away from qualifying for the ATP Finals.
The 17-time Grand Slam champion completed a 7-6 (5), 6-7 (5), 6-4 victory at the Palais Omnisports to keep his challenge for the year-end No. 1 ranking well on track.
Federer could have sealed a quicker win but Chardy, who beat him on clay at the Rome Masters earlier this season, saved two match points at 5-4 in the second set before forcing a decider with a stunning crosscourt forehand winner.
“Chardy has made it hard for me in the past. I thought it could be tough, and it was,” said Federer, who is up against another Frenchman, Lucas Pouille, in the next round. “As the match went longer, the better I actually started to play and created more opportunities.”
The 33-year-old Federer arrived in Paris undefeated in his past 12 matches on the back of consecutive titles in Shanghai and Basel, trailing top-ranked Novak Djokovic by 490 points.
With 2,500 points up for grabs between Paris and at the ATP Finals in London, Federer is looking to clinch the year-end top spot for a record-equaling sixth time. He will also have a chance to earn points with Switzerland in the Davis Cup final against France next month.
Federer was tight-lipped when the Davis Cup was brought up in a media room packed with French reporters speculating whether Chardy should be picked for the final.
“I could answer, but I’m not going to do that. I don’t want to help the French captain,” he said.
The Davis Cup is the only major trophy missing from Federer’s collection and the Swiss star found time to practice on clay earlier this month to prepare for the final. He even thought about skipping the Paris Masters to have more time to adapt to the surface picked by the French.
“But I did the clay (practice) after Shanghai, just so I had it done,” Federer said. “Then after that, after I won Shanghai, for me it was clear I was going to play everything I could.”
Federer’s Davis Cup teammate Stan Wawrinka joined him in the third round after winning his first match in more than a month.
The third-seeded Wawrinka ended a three-match losing streak with a 6-4, 7-6 (6) win over 37th-ranked Dominic Thiem before Murray dispatched Frenchman Julien Benneteau 6-3, 6-4.
Following consecutive losses in Tokyo, Shanghai and Basel, Wawrinka put on an erratic display but prevailed on the important points.
“I’m trying to find my confidence,” the Australian Open champion said. “I know things can change quickly. I can lose first round, and I can also go very far in a tournament.”
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 Grigor Dimitrov in the next round to qualify for the season finale.
Four berths are left in the race to London, with six players including Dimitrov still in contention to join Djokovic, 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 has won three titles and climbed to fifth in the ATP Race.
“If I get in to London I deserve to be there, because it’s your results across the whole year,” Murray said. “My results in most of tournaments this year, most of the big tournaments, have been good enough to be in the top eight.”
Meanwhile, seventh-seeded Milos Raonic had 19 aces in a 6-3, 5-7, 7-6 (4) win over Jack Sock, keeping alive his slender hopes of securing a spot for the finals. No. 6 seed Kei Nishikori of Japan also remained in the mix after beating Tommy Robredo 6-7 (4), 6-2, 6-3. Feliciano Lopez was a 6-4, 6-4 winner over Sam Querrey.
Gael Monfils set up a third-round meeting with Djokovic by defeating hard-hitting John Isner 6-4, 7-6 (4) as all three American players remaining in the tournament — Sock, Isner and Querrey — bowed out.
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