PARIS: Argentinian Diego Schwartzman moved within two wins of sealing a debut appearance at the ATP Tour Finals in London by beating Richard Gasquet to reach the Paris Masters third round on Wednesday.
The 28-year-old was too strong for the Frenchman, taking a 7-5, 6-3 victory, and will next face Spanish qualifier Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in the last 16 at Bercy Arena.
Schwartzman will secure the final spot at the season-ending tournament by reaching the semi-finals in Paris, but would qualify even if he fails to do so, as long as neither Pablo Carreno Busta, Milos Raonic or Stan Wawrinka win the title.
“I have it in my hands but I have to say that I’m watching the other matches,” said the sixth seed.
“I want to be there so I’m doing my best on court.”
The Tour Finals get underway on November 15.
Schwartzman had never beaten Gasquet in three previous meetings, but the home player’s first win since the US Open came in the opening round.
“Richard is such a player, he’s always playing really good tennis,” added Schwartzman. “I never beat him before so it was tough but I think I played a really good match.”
Schwartzman reached his maiden Grand Slam semi-final at last month’s French Open after making his first Masters final in Rome.
Third seed Daniil Medvedev also progressed to the third round after Kevin Anderson retired injured from their encounter.
The Russian will next play either Australia’s Alex de Minaur or Italian Lorenzo Sonego, who beat Novak Djokovic in Vienna last week, for a last-eight place.
South African Anderson quit when 5-2 down in an opening-set tie-break, with the tournament medical service saying the former US Open runner-up suffered a thigh injury.
The 24-year-old Medvedev is yet to reach an ATP final in 2020 after winning four titles and finishing runner-up five times last year.
But the world number five is set to gain ranking points in the French capital, after a second-round exit 12 months ago.
Davidovich Fokina backed up his first-round win over former champion Karen Khachanov by easing past Frenchman Benjamin Bonzi 6-4, 6-4.
Later on Wednesday, top seed Rafael Nadal starts his bid to win the title for the first time when he takes on fellow Spaniard Feliciano Lopez in the second round.