Wawrinka closes in on Finals
Paris - Defending champion David Ferrer has encountered little resistance against Gilles Simon while former world number one Novak Djokovic overcame American John Isner to join Stanislas Wawrinka in the Paris Masters quarter-finals on Thursday.
Djokovic, who won in Paris in 2009 and is not only chasing a 40th ATP title but also the world number one spot, droppped the first set before storming back for a 6-7 (5/7), 6-1, 6-3 victory.
He now meets Wawrinka against whom he has already played some classic matches this season, notably their five-set epic in the US Open semi-finals where the Serb finally prevailed.
"He's a frustrating oppponent," he said of the big serving Isner.
"I was struggling to get break points but it went better in the second and third set and I was really content with my game," added the six-time Grand Slam winner.
"We have a good rivalry (against Wawrinka) and have had some great matches but I really want to finish the season well because it's a joy to play here in front of great fans," he said about the French capital tournament.
Wawrinka took another step towards booking his Eurostar ticket earlier when he comfortably defeated Spaniard Nicolas Almagro 6-3, 6-2.
Seventh-ranked Wawrinka will join his Olympic double's partner Roger Federer for the season's grande finale in the English capital, should either Frenchman Richard Gasquet or Milos Raonic of Canada lose their third round matches later in the day.
When asked prior to the Djokovic match who he might prefer in Friday's quarter-finals, he admitted Djokovic was the man he wanted.
"If I do have a preference it would be Novak because we've had some great matches in the past,"
"As for today, well we knew each other very well and I know he's a dangerous player (Almagro) but I changed tactics when I had to and didn't get frustrated," he added after reaching his 13th quarter-final of the season.
Ferrer showed little mercy against Simon and by converting three of six break points, that was the difference as he stays in the hunt for a third ATP title this season following Auckland and Buenos Aires.
Ferrer's victory in Paris last year was his first and only Masters 1000 title although the world number four also reached the French Open final where he was well beaten by Rafael Nadal.
His defence continues on Friday with a potential last eight tie against sixth seed Thomas Berdych or Raonic.
Gasquet takes on Japanese world number 18 Kei Nishikori for the right to play world number one Rafael Nadal or last year's surprise finalist Jerzy Janowicz of Poland in the last four.
Canada's Davis Cup semi-finalist and 10th seed Raonic must beat Czech world number six Thomas Berdych to keep his flickering London hopes alive.
The 22-year-old has to reach the final in Paris to snatch one of the final spots from Wawrinka or Gasquet with these three players battling for the final two slots.
Federer became the lastest player to seal his place at London on Wednesday when he sailed past South African Kevin Anderson 6-4, 6-4 for his 12th straight appearance at the World Tour Finals.
He said following the victory that it had been a hard slog to complete his task.
"I sort of entered into a tunnel. I was practicing so hard because I needed it that I kept focusing on myself.
"Of course, London was in the air somewhere. I just thought that either I'm good enough or I'm not good enough. If I miss, I miss. But it was clear if I made it, I would be happy. Now it's the case.
"In a way I'm relieved, but mainly I'm happy and proud of having been able to do that in a difficult year."Results from the Paris Masters Series tournament on Thursday (x denotes seeding):
Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI x7) bt Nicolas Almagro (ESP x12) 6-3, 6-2
David Ferrer (ESP x3) bt Gilles Simon (FRA x15) 6-2, 6-3