Vienna - Andy Murray will line up against German Jan-Leonard Struff in the quarter-finals of the Austrian Open on Friday after dispatching Vasek Pospisil 6-4, 6-4 in his opening match.
The tournament wild card, who is seeking to claim one of three remaining places in next month's year-end championships, needed to get into rhythm as he made the change from Chinese hardcourts last week to his first indoor event since February.
Murray, who stands provisional tenth in the points race to the World Tour Championships, has this week plus next week in Valencia and the Paris Masters to try and return to the season wrap-up event.
He missed it last year as he recovered from back surgery.
The 2013 Wimbledon champion admitted he needed to overcome a slow start to beat Pospisil in their first meeting.
"I just managed to get breaks late in the sets. It could have been a lot closer. The balls here are quick and difficult to control," he said of his first indoor match since Rotterdam.
"It takes time to adjust. You need to train as much as possible on the court," he said. "It's a very intense atmosphere, with the crowds seated very close to the baseline."
Murray limited the 44th-ranked Pospisil to just three aces after the Canadian had struck 27 in the previous round.
"I didn't start very well, he was serving well," said Murray. "I had to work hard to get into the match, I need to improve for the next round."
Struff, one of three Germans remaining in the field, booked his place opposite Murray with a defeat of Sergiy Stakhovsky 7-6 (8-6), 2-6, 7-6 (7-1).
German fourth seed Philipp Kohlschreiber and Benjamin Becker play on Friday in a quarter-final.
Top seed David Ferrer, another London candidate and wild card like Murray, began with a win as the Spaniard defeated Tobias Kamke 7-5, 6-1.
Ferrer stands ninth in the race to London but can only start improving his position if he can reach the end of the weekend in Vienna.
"Murray is behind me, but not by much. I now can only focus on my next match, a very difficult one," he said prior to playing Croatian Ivo Karlovic.
Ferrer is back in the city for the first time since a 2004 loss and finally won his first Vienna match as he put out Kamke in 90 minutes.
The first set took nearly an hour before Ferrer broke it open and sprinted to victory.
Murray needed late breaks in both sets to go through Pospisil.
Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci overcame third seed Feliciano Lopez 7-6 (9-11), 6-1, 6-4 as the Spaniard felt the transition after playing a Shanghai final five days ago.
Serb Viktor Troicki reached the last eight for the first time in nearly 18 months as he upset Czech fifth seed Lukas Rosol 6-3, 6-2.