Murray seals O2 spot with Masters win
ANDY MURRAY ensured he will end his season at the prestigious Barclays ATP World Tour Finals for the third year in a row after reaching the quarter-finals of the Shanghai Masters.
The British number one beat France's Jeremy Chardy 6-3, 6-4 in the third round to book his place at the O2 next month.
Murray follows Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic in qualifying for the eight-man event, which is being held in London for the second successive season.
The 23-year-old missed out on the last four by one game last season and will be aiming to better that in front of his home crowd.
Murray said: "I think it's a great achievement to qualify for the Tour Finals. I'm obviously very happy to have done it with a few tournaments left. Today was a good match. I was happy with the way I played."
It has been a very mixed season for the Scot, with highs including an Australian Open appearance in January, reaching the semi-finals at Wimbledon and beating both Nadal and Federer to win the Toronto Masters.
But there have also been plenty of lows, such as a miserable run from February to June and a third-round loss at the US Open.
Murray continued: "The closer it gets to the (Tour Finals), you start thinking about it. So much can happen at the beginning of the year. I had a great tournament in Australia, then I had three or four really bad months.
"I might have been outside the top eight until maybe Wimbledon time. So you have to try and view the year as a whole and not really panic if things go bad at the start of the year because it's such a long season. I was told that I'd be guaranteed if I made semis this week. That was the goal. But obviously it's nice to be there having reached the quarters."
Murray did not have things all his own way against Chardy and was forced to save five break points in the opening set. The fourth seed's first-serve percentage was down at 54% but he was pleased to pull out the big delivery when it mattered.
"I served well under pressure," he said. "He had quite a few break points in the first set and I saved them all pretty well with good serves or a good first serve and a big forehand a couple of times.
"That was really, really important to get a good start in the match because he's very, very streaky. He can play some great tennis.
"He served 80% first serves in the first set.
"To beat a guy, win a set against someone that serves that well, with that high percentage, was good."
Next up for Murray is another Frenchman, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who is back in action after three months out with a knee injury.
The 25-year-old, who beat Germany's Florian Mayer 7-5, 6-3, caused Murray plenty of problems in their last meeting in the quarter-finals at Wimbledon this summer.
The Scot said: "He's obviously a very tough player. He has a big serve, a big forehand and plays a very aggressive game.
"He's similar to Chardy in many ways but probably just a better all-around player.
"He's a very good athlete.
He's one of the top players, that's for sure."