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Last Updated: Wednesday, 31 October 2007, 11:51 GMT
Murray comes through Paris opener
By Piers Newbery

Andy Murray
Murray is hoping to secure a place at the Masters Cup
Andy Murray maintained his hopes of qualifying for the Masters Cup with a second-round win over Jarkko Nieminen at the Paris Masters on Wednesday.

The British number one came through 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 to set up a last-16 clash with Frenchman Fabrice Santoro.

Murray began the week 11th in the ATP Race, with the top eight qualifying for the season-ending event in Shanghai.

He will have to reach at least the quarter-finals in Paris to secure one of the two remaining places.

And he received a boost when 34-year-old Santoro, playing in the tournament for the 14th time, shocked world number three Novak Djokovic 6-3 6-2 in the day's second match.

With Fernando Gonzalez a long way ahead at seventh in the Race, Murray is realistically trying to overtake Tommy Haas, Tommy Robredo, Tomas Berdych and James Blake for eighth spot.

I feel fresh and if I play like I did last week, I've got a good chance here I think

Andy Murray

It is a tall order but the 20-year-old Scot is a man in form, having won his third career title in St Petersburg last week, and he extended his winning run against Nieminen.

Murray had won their only previous encounter in Canada last year and he again targeted the relatively tame Nieminen serve.

The Finn may have reached the final in Basle last week but he was under pressure from the start against Murray, saving seven break points in his opening two service games.

It was a similar story throughout the first nine games as Murray dominated without being able to capitalise, and he nearly paid the price, saving two set points himself in a tense game 10.

When he slipped a mini-break down in the tie-break it looked like the missed opportunitues would tell for Murray.

But he recovered to 5-5 and then won an epic rally with a dipping backhand to the Finn's feet before finding a service winner on set point.

That was not the end of Nieminen's resistance and he finally broke serve in game four of the second set after Murray had recovered from 0-40.

It had the effect of shaking Murray from his early morning slumber and the Scot hit back with successive breaks of his own, angling away a backhand volley for a 4-3 lead.

606: DEBATE
DarloScot

With his confidence restored, the British number one was soon at match point on Nieminen's serve and took his second chance with a heavy return.

"It was disappointing not to take advantage early on - I was playing well but made too many mistakes to close it out," said Murray.

"I thought I played some good shots in the second and to come back from 3-1 down was pleasing."

He added: "I said a year ago I knew early morning starts would be something I had to get used to - I've worked on it.

"The way I started today was really good and I came through it well."

The victory takes Murray to within three points of eighth-placed Haas in the Race, but all the main contenders are still going in Paris.

"Everyone is thinking about Shanghai, but the last round was disappointing," said Murray.

"Everyone won - Robredo won, Haas won, Berdych won, Canas won. I need these guys to lose to have a shot.

"But I'm just happy to be in with a chance after missing three months with a wrist injury. I feel fresh and if I play like I did last week, I've got a good chance here I think."

SEE ALSO
Haas boosts Masters Cup chances
30 Oct 07 |  Tennis


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