Murray-Djokovic rankings battle continues, Cilic books London spot

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Andy Murray spent half as much time on court as rankings rival Novak Djokovic, but both progressed to the quarter-finals at the Paris Masters on Thursday.

World number one Djokovic has the determined Briton hot on his heels and needed three sets to end the challenge of Grigor Dimitrov, eventually winning 4-6 6-2 6-3.

The Serbian's victory took two hours and 24 minutes, while Murray's match against home favourite Lucas Pouille lasted half that time.

Olympic champion Murray was a 6-3 6-0 winner as he continued his fine recent form.

There was also good news for Marin Cilic, whose 6-3 7-6 (11-9) win over David Goffin wrapped up a spot at the ATP World Tour Finals.

 

DJOKOVIC SURVIVES FIRST-SET SCARE

Djokovic has won the title in each of the last three years, but was on the ropes as Dimitrov came out fighting.

Needing to reach the final to ensure he is not dethroned from top spot in the rankings, Djokovic required treatment on his right knee in the second set, but eventually turned the tide.

Dimitrov could not maintain his remarkable early display as Djokovic finally found his gear, upping his first-serve percentage and beginning to hit winners with characteristic consistency.

 

MAGNIFICENT MURRAY MARCHES ON

While Djokovic endured a battle to continue his progress, Murray was dominant against Pouille.

Despite having to stave off two break points in the opening game, the three-time grand slam winner grew into the contest and soon had the upper hand.

Pouille, with the backing of the home crowd, had intermittently disrupted Murray's flow in the first set, but could not live with him in the second.

The world number two coasted to a bagel to underline his supreme confidence, with Tomas Berdych up next.

 

CILIC BOOKS LONDON SPOT

Cilic sealed his place in the World Tour Finals and ended Goffin's quest to qualify for the season-ending tournament by beating the Belgian to make the last eight.

The Croatian world number 10 secured one of the two remaining places in the lucrative event in London this month with a hard-fought triumph, which set up a meeting with Djokovic.

That result moved the 28-year-old above Dominic Thiem into eighth spot in the Race to London after the Austrian was beaten by Jack Sock in the second round on Wednesday.

Berdych can take the eighth and final place at the expense of Thiem if he wins the title this week, but he now faces Murray after defeating Gilles Simon 6-4 6-3.

Crowd favourite Jo-Wilfried Tsonga needs to be crowned champion in his homeland to have any chance of qualifying for the Tour Finals and summoned a spirited fightback to see off Kei Nishikori 0-6 6-3 7-6 (7-3).

Elsewhere in the draw, Sock beat Richard Gasquet 6-2 3-6 7-5, John Isner defeated Jan-Lennard Struff 6-4 6-7 (4-7) 6-3, and Pablo Cuevas lost to Milos Raonic.