Andy Murray secured his 10th consecutive win after defeating Julien Benneteau 6-3, 6-4 to move into the third round of the Paris Masters - and within one match of securing his place at the World Tour Finals.
The Brit broke immediately and was rarely troubled – a minor second set blip aside – taking all three of his break points and hitting 20 winners to just nine unforced errors, although the disappearance of his first serve in the second set put him under a bit more pressure than he might have liked.
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The eighth seed started with an emphatic love hold, before being rather gifted the first break of the match after Benneteau served up three successive double faults.
The Scot – who was showing little sign of fatigue following his marathon three hour win on Sunday – was looking focused and was rarely troubled on serve as he rather cruised through the first set.
His French opponent improved somewhat as the set went on, but he couldn’t make any sort of mark on Murray’s serve and the Brit sealed the first set with an unreturnable serve after barely 30 minutes.
And Murray broke again immediately in the second set, taking advantage of a very fortunate net cord at 40-30 – much to the annoyance of the home crowd, who let out a chorus of boos – to go on to break after Benneteau hit a forehand long.
The 27 year old was playing with confidence and he raced into a 4-1 lead after breaking again, seemingly in complete control.
But it wouldn’t be a Murray match without a twist at some point, and so it proved when Benneteau raced into a 0-40 lead on the next game. The Scot responded well – saving all three break points – but with the serve having completely deserted him he was powerless to prevent the Frenchman from getting one of the breaks back.
The world number 28 seemed to have discovered a second wind, and after going 0-30 on Murray’s next service game it looked like he might have found a way back into the match. But the Scot stood firm – despite a first serve that was only finding its mark a mere 36% of the time in this set – and grounded out a hold to put himself within touching distance of the next round after a delightful forehand winner.
The Valencia champ was forced to serve it out, but this time there was no fuss and he raced to 40-0 before sealing the victory with another forehand winner.
In the third round Murray will take on the ninth seed Grigor Dimitrov, who ended the defence of his Wimbledon title back in July. Dimitrov, along with Murray, is one of six players still fighting for a World Tour Final berth - but the Bulgarian would need to win the whole tournament to usurp the Scot in the rankings.