Tennis: Andy targets Masters' slot
Andy Murray is desperate to establish himself as "one of the best players in the world" by earning a place in the Masters Cup in Shanghai following his third-round win over Jarkko Nieminen in the Paris Masters.
Murray's 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 victory over the Finn moved him one step closer to his minimum requirement of the quarter-finals in France.
The British number one needs to finish in the top eight in the ATP 2007 race to earn a place in Shanghai and must outdo the likes of Tommy Haas, Tommy Robredo, Tomas Berdych and James Blake to claim the final qualifying spot.
And the 20-year-old is eager to put himself on that platform after catapulting himself into contention by winning last week's St Petersburg Open.
"I think all the players are thinking about it (the Masters Cup)," said Murray.
"But the last round was disappointing, everyone won. Robredo won, Haas won, Berdych won, (Guillermo) Canas won. I need these guys to lose to have a shot.
"But I'm just happy to be in with a chance after missing three months with a wrist injury.
"After winning at St Petersburg I have a good chance here. I'm looking forward to the next match and I've got something up my sleeve.
"It's a huge chance to prove I'm one of the best players in the world."
Murray struggled for consistency against Nieminen, double-faulting on a number of occasions and producing a series of unforced errors when he had the chance to break.
He served his first two games to love in the match and gave his opponent a torrid time in his opening service game but it took a tie-break to prise the players apart in the opening set.
The second set was a lot more open, with the 26-year-old Finn breaking Murray at the second attempt before moving into a 3-1 lead.
But he hit back instantly claiming two successive breaks of serve and holding his own game to take three in a row to complete victory.
Aside from his shaky serve, Murray produced a couple of fizzing cross-court winners and continued his excellent recent use of the drop shot.
But the Scot conceded there must be improvement when he faces Fabrice Santoro - surprise 6-3 6-2 victor over world number three Novak Djokovic - in the next round.
"It was was a little bit disappointing today. I was playing really well and having lots of chances but making too many mistakes," Murray said.
"I was just happy to get out of the tie-break (in the first set) but I played some really good shots and I think I deserved to win the set. To come back from 3-1 down in the second was good as well.
"I've been playing well and now I have a good chance."