Eighth-seeded Andy Roddick reached the third round at the Paris Masters on Wednesday and took a big step toward qualifying for the ATP World Tour Finals by beating Jarkko Nieminen 6-1, 6-4.
Roddick never looked in trouble against the Finn and didn’t face a single break point as he broke his opponent three times.
Only the top eight players qualify for the ATP Finals in London from Nov. 21-28.
“Every match I win is significant at this point,” Roddick said. “Puts more pressure on the guys behind me. I have a pretty good shot no matter how I do here this week, but I think the last thing you want to do is be in that position where you’re at home cheering against somebody hoping that something bad happens to them.”
Roddick is in eighth place in the rankings and will be guaranteed a spot at the year-end tournament unless Fernando Verdasco reaches the final in Paris or Jurgen Melzer wins the tournament.
Roddick, who next plays Ernests Gulbis of Latvia, lost only five of the 29 points played on his first serve.
The former U.S. Open champion, who reached the semifinals twice at the Palais Omnisports, got off to a strong start, breaking Nieminen immediately to take a 3-0 lead after winning his serve at love.
Roddick then took Nieminen’s serve in the sixth game with a crosscourt forehand winner and broke again in the third game of the second set when his opponent sent a backhand wide.
Nieminen saved two match points but Roddick served two consecutive winners to close out the match.
Roddick said he was happy with the speed of the court, which is faster this year and suits his offensive style of play.
“I believe it’s become so monotonous as far as what you get. Grass is slow and indoors has turned slow,” Roddick said. “So I think it’s fair ... They have less time to return. If you actually stick a volley you get rewarded.”
Defending champion Novak Djokovic overcame a slow start and an early break in the first set to beat Juan Monaco of Argentina 6-4, 6-3.
The second-seeded Serb struggled on his first serve but fended off seven of eight break points and took Monaco’s serve three times. He’ll next play either John Isner of the United States or Michael Llodra of France.
No. 13 Marin Cilic of Croatia also advanced, beating Sergiy Stakhovsky of Ukraine 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.
Roger Federer, the No. 1-seeded player at the tournament following Rafael Nadal’s withdrawal, will open against Richard Gasquet of France in the evening session.