By Julien Pretot
PARIS (Reuters) – Rafael Nadal continued his quest for a maiden Paris Masters title with a no-nonsense 6-4 6-4 victory against old foe Stan Wawrinka to reach the quarter-finals on Thursday.
The Spaniard, who will take over as world number one from Novak Djokovic on Monday, converted two of his three break chances to claim his 19th win in 22 encounters against the Swiss.
The 19-time grand slam champion will next face local favourite Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who beat German Jan-Lennard Sruff 2-6 6-4 7-6(6), making the most of his wildcard status in Paris.
The result ended Wawrinka’s hopes of qualifying for the season-ending ATP Finals, leaving only Frenchman Gael Monfils and Italian Matteo Berrettini with a chance to grab the last of eight tickets for the Nov. 10-17 showdown.
Monfils, who takes on Moldovia’s Radu Albot later on Thursday, needs to reach the last four to leapfrog Berrettini in the race to London after the Italian was eliminated in the second round at Bercy.
Djokovic had to dig deep in the opening set as he reached the quarter-finals with a 7-6(7) 6-1 win against Britain’s Kyle Edmund.
The 16-time grand slam winner was kept on his toes before racing to victory to set up a meeting with seventh seed Stefanos Tsitsipas after the Greek beat Australian Alex De Minaur 6-3 6-4.
Serbian Djokovic bagged the first set on his seventh opportunity and he did not look back after breaking for 2-1 in the second with a booming forehand winner.
Fifth seed Dominic Thiem was knocked out following a 6-3 6-2 defeat by Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov who will play his first quarter-final at a Masters event since Canada 2018.
Dimitrov, who had been struggling since reaching the semi-finals at the U.S. Open, played brilliantly throughout, taking advantage of Thiem’s fading condition after the Austrian won the title in Vienna last Sunday.
Dimitrov next takes on Chile’s Cristian Garin, who beat local favourite Jeremy Chardy in three sets.
Sixth seed Alexander Zverev also exited after being beaten 6-2 5-7 6-2 by Canadian Denis Shapovalov.
(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Christian Radnedge and Pritha Sarkar)