PARIS — Andy Murray capped off his autumn comeback with a place in the ATP Finals by reaching the quarterfinals of the Paris Masters in impressive fashion on Thursday.
After missing last year's season-ending tournament following surgery on his back, Murray pushed hard to qualify for London for the seventh consecutive year. He won three titles over the past five weeks.
Thursday's 6-3, 6-3 win over No. 9 seed Grigor Dimitrov at the Palais Omnisports guaranteed him a berth at London's O2 Arena from Nov. 9-16.
Already qualified for the finals, third-seeded Stan Wawrinka failed to serve out the match before losing a 6-7 (2), 7-5, 7-6 (3) to Kevin Anderson in a match lasting nearly three hours as the hard-hitting South-African rallied to advance to the quarterfinals of the indoor tournament for the first time.
Anderson will next face Tomas Berdych, who stayed on course for qualifying for the finals for the fifth straight year by beating Feliciano Lopez 7-5, 6-3. Fourth-seeded David Ferrer and No. 7 seed Milos Raonic also kept alive their hopes of making it to London by defeating Fernando Verdasco and Roberto Bautista Agut, respectively.
"It's been a strong year after tough, tough surgery and a hard beginning of the year," Murray told Sky Sports after signing 'bad year' on a camera lens, in an apparent jibe at his critics.
Following his back surgery, Murray slipped from fourth in January to 12th in the rankings last month. He reached the French Open semifinals but failed in his Wimbledon title defense. His first tournament victory came in September in China.
In a tumultuous year, he also split with coach Ivan Lendl in March and hired Amelie Mauresmo after Roland Garros.
"It's a fun way to finish the year, in London," Murray said.
Murray was in control throughout against Dimitrov, losing only two points on his first serve as he took a measure of revenge following his loss to the Bulgarian player in the quarterfinals at the All England club this year.