By Julien Pretot
Roger Federer booked his place in the ATP World Tour Finals for a record-tying 12th consecutive year when he dismissed South African Kevin Anderson 6-4 6-4 to reach the third round of the Paris Masters.
The win meant former world number one Federer, who started the week seventh in the ATP Race to London, made sure of finishing in the top nine. That is enough to earn him a spot in the Finals as Wimbledon champion Andy Murray is out with a back problem.
Top seed Rafa Nadal also progressed to the third round in the French capital with a 7-5 7-5 triumph over fellow Spaniard Marcel Granollers.
By qualifying for the event every year since 2002, Federer equalled Ivan Lendl’s mark for the most successive appearances at the season-ending event.
“It’s one of the highlights for all the players, all the top 10, top 20 talk about that from the beginning of the year or during the off-season,” the Swiss told a news conference.
“Being among the very best is very enjoyable. Also it’s one of the tournaments where I haven’t had the greatest success.”
Two more places are still available for next week’s showdown in London and Federer’s compatriot Stanislas Wawrinka stayed on course to snatch one of them by beating Spain’s Feliciano Lopez 6-3 3-6 6-3.
Wawrinka, Frenchman Richard Gasquet and Canadian Milos Raonic, who beat Dutchman Robin Haase 6-3 6-4, are the last three candidates for a spot at the Finals.
Rafa Nadal, Novak Djokovic, David Ferrer, Juan Martin Del Potro and Tomas Berdych have already qualified for the eight-man event.
Wawrinka’s victory meant Spaniard Nicolas Almagro was ruled out of the race. German Tommy Haas, beaten 6-2 6-2 by fellow German Philipp Kohlschreiber, also dropped out.
Federer barely broke sweat against Anderson, breaking serve in the first game and never looking back as the South African made a series of unforced errors.
Nadal, aiming to bag one of the three Masters titles he has never won, broke serve in the 11th game of each set against compatriot Granollers to set up a meeting with last year’s runner-up Jerzy Janowicz of Poland.
“There is no easy opponent on a surface like this one, in a tough tournament like this one,” said the eight-times French Open champion. “But hopefully for my opponents I’m not going to be good news either.”
By Julien Pretot