PARIS, Nov 1 (Reuters) British number one Andy Murray moved closer to a Masters Cup spot by crushing Frenchman Fabrice Santoro 6-4 6-2 to reach the quarter-finals of the Paris Masters Series today.
The 20-year-old Murray, one of several players fighting for the two remaining tickets to the Nov. 11-18 season-finale in Shanghai featuring the world's top eight, needed just 69 minutes to brush aside the 34-year-old Santoro.
The Scot climbed to a provisional eighth in the ATP Race and could score precious points in the next round when he faces another Masters Cup contender -- either Frenchman Richard Gasquet or American James Blake.
''I need to win that match if I want to go to Shanghai so obviously, I'm going to be a bit nervous,'' Murray said.
''But, you know, I've been playing well my last six, seven matches and I've got a good chance of winning.'' Murray, who said Santoro was the player he enjoyed watching the most, took a while to read the pocket-sized Frenchman's serve but then found the key and played with plenty of confidence in the second set.
Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis had earlier knocked out Paris title holder Nikolay Davydenko with an impressive 6-2 6-2 win to keep alive his own Masters Cup hopes.
Baghdatis gave a near faultless display to set up a quarter-final with Spain's Tommy Robredo, the eighth seed, who moved past Argentine Guillermo Canas with a 7-5 7-5 win.
Russia's Davydenko, seeded fourth in the 2.45 million dollars indoor event, looked sluggish before bowing out with a backhand error at the end of a one-sided contest lasting just 73 minutes.
World number four Davydenko, who was fined 2,000 dollars for not trying hard enough during his shock defeat by Croatian qualifier Marin Cilic at the St Petersburg Open last week, was seen arguing with the umpire during today's match.
''I was thinking he might give me a warning,'' Davydenko said.
''He just asked me what was happening. I told him I couldn't explain.'' Reuters AB GC2129