Richard Gasquet stayed on course to reach the ATP World Tour Finals after battling to a 7-5 6-7 (6-8) 6-3 win over Fernando Verdasco in the second round of the Paris Masters.
The Frenchman currently occupies the final qualifying spot for the year-end tournament but a loss to Verdasco could have been disastrous for his hopes of reaching London.
Gasquet took the first set by breaking in the 12th game and had the chance to close out the match after fighting back from 6-3 down in the second set tie-break with two brilliant backhands and an unreturnable serve. However, Verdasco hit back to level the contest.
Gasquet then took control as he went a break up in the final set. There was one late bout of nerves for the Frenchman as he offered Verdasco three chances to break back, but the ninth seed managed to hold on.
Gasquet now faces Kei Nishikori after the Japanese sent Gasquet's compatriot Jo-Wilfried Tsonga crashing 1-6 7-6 7-6, ending Tsonga's own chances of reaching the tour finals.
Eighth-seed Tsonga blew his first match point by double-faulting before Nishikori aced his way out of a second and then claimed victory when the Frenchman's serve let him down once more.
"I could have beaten many players today, and I believe he played a very solid match," said Tsonga who admitted he wasn't fully fit.
"Normally I shouldn't even be here. We even wondered if we would totally stop or if we would continue the season, and I decided to continue the season.
"I'm not in the Masters, but we decided to go to the end."
Also in the second round there were wins for Novak Djokovic - the second seed defeating plucky qualifier Herbert Pierre-Hugues of France 7-6 6-3 - and Jerzy Janowicz of Poland, who beat Colombia's Santiago Giraldo, also 7-6 6-3.
In first round action, Grigor Dimitrov came back from a set down to claim a 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 6-3 victory over Michael Llodra to set up a clash with 16th seed Fabio Fognini.
Lucky loser Pablo Andujar sprung something of a surprise by defeating Canada's Vasek Pospisil 6-4 2-6 6-4, while Marcel Granollers booked a second-round date with top seed and fellow Spaniard Rafael Nadal.