Paris - Andy Murray has turned in a clinical performance on Wednesday as he joined Stan Wawrinka, David Ferrer, Grigor Dimitrov and Milos Raonic in the third round of the Paris Masters.
The two-time Grand Slam winner, who was absent last year afer undergoing back surgery, overcame the challenge of French world number 28 Julien Benneteau and advanced to the last 16, 6-3, 6-4.
"It's a lot easier here to finish points than it was last week (in Valencia), the court is a bit quicker, lower bouncing, so you can come into the net a bit as well," said Murray following his victory.
The 27-year-old Scot will now meet Bulgaria's Dimitrov, who crushed Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay 6-0, 6-3, for a place in the quarter-finals.
If Murray, who won his third tournament of the season at Valencia on Sunday, wins his next match he will guarantee qualification for the World Tour Finals in London.
"I put in a lot of hard work the last few weeks, played a lot of tough, long matches.
"And, yeah, if I get in to London I deserve to be there, because it's your results across the whole year. My results in most of the tournaments this year, most of the big tournaments, have been good enough to be in the top eight.
"I have won more matches than most of the players in the slams, maybe one or two other guys, Roger (Federer) and Novak (Djokovic) might be the only ones to have won more," added Murray.
Also on Wednesday, world number four Wawrinka snapped a three-game losing streak as he qualified for the third round with a 6-4, 7-6 (8/6) victory over Dominic Thiem.
The Swiss 29-year-old came through a tight match in one hour and 36 minutes against the Austrian to book a meeting with big-serving South African Kevin Anderson.
"I'm trying to find my confidence, I have some victories but I know that my level of game is there. What I still miss is winning matches," said Wawrinka, who won his first Grand Slam at the Australian Open in January.
"I know things can change quickly; I can lose first round and I can also go very far in a tournament, so the important thing is really to concentrate on improving my level."
Former champion and fourth seed Ferrer also advanced as he subdued the talents of rising Belgian star David Goffin 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 to set up an all-Spanish third-round tie against Fernando Verdasco.
Another Spaniard, 12th seed Feliciano Lopez, also turned in a polished showing as he booked a third-round match against Czech fifth seed Tomas Berdych by beating American qualifier Sam Querrey 6-4, 6-4.
Earlier on the third day of the penultimate tournament of the season, Canada's Raonic kept alive his chances of qualifying for the World Tour Finals with a tough three-set win over American qualifier Jack Sock.
The number seven seed needs to win the tournament in Paris to guarantee his place in London on November 9, and he scraped through against world number 44 Sock, 6-3, 5-7, 7-6 (7/4) in just over two hours.
Awaiting Raonic in the third round will be Roberto Bautista-Agut, who knocked out Frenchman Richard Gasquet 6-4, 6-2.
Federer, the 2011 Paris champion, is taking on Frenchman Jeremy Chardy as the Swiss world number two returns to competition after winning his sixth crown in Basel last Sunday.
Federer comes to the French capital less than 500 points behind Novak Djokovic in the race for the season-ending world number one spot.
There are a maximum 1 000 points on offer at Bercy for the champion while the World Tour Finals offer 1 500 points.
Japanese sixth seed Kei Nishikori will take on Spanish veteran Tommy Robredo later in the day while Frenchmen Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gael Monfils are in action against Austrian Jurgen Melzer and American John Isner respectively.
Results on the third day of the ATP Paris Masters on Wednesday (x denotes seeding):
Andy Murray (GBR) bt Julien Benneteau (FRA) 6-3, 6-4
David Ferrer (ESP x4) bt David Goffin (BEL) 6-3, 2-6, 6-3
Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI x3) bt Dominic Thiem (AUT) 6-4, 7-6 (8/6)
Milos Raonic (CAN x7) bt Jack Sock (USA) 6-3, 5-7, 7-6 (7/4)
Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP x11) bt Richard Gasquet (FRA) 6-4, 6-2