Andy Murray has moved a step closer towards becoming the world number one after edging out Spain's Fernando Verdasco in the Paris Masters second round. The 29-year-old Brit won 6-3 6-7 (5-7) 7-5 in two hours and 29 minutes, even though he was well below his best in the French capital.
Murray - who is poised to face Lucas Pouille in the third round - took the first set by a comfortable margin after he broke Verdasco's serve with the scoreline at 3-2. However, the second set proved to be much more of a struggle for Murray, and he lost the tie-break after they had both had their serves broken twice.
The Olympic champion was again notably far short of his best in the deciding set - but still did enough to secure his place in the next round. "It was a tough match. Verdasco was going for his shots and serving huge," Murray said after his victory, as quoted by the BBC.
"When he was behind in games and even when I was getting the return back, he was dictating the points on his forehand and backhand. He hit a few lines with his backhand. I just had to fight at the end."
Victory against Verdasco means Murray has won 53 of his past 57 matches, and he is edging closer towards overtaking Novak Djokovic in the rankings. The Serb - who earlier beat Luxembourg's Gilles Muller 6-3 6-4 - will, however, retain his number one ranking if he is able to reach the final in Paris.