Djokovic cruises, Murray struggles, Wawrinka out in Paris
By Julien Pretot
PARIS (Reuters) - Novak Djokovic began his bid to hold on to his number one ranking with an easy win over Gilles Muller in the Paris Masters second round while Andy Murray struggled through and Stan Wawrinka faltered on Wednesday.
Serb Djokovic, who could be dethroned from the top spot by Wimbledon champion Murray this week, broke Luxembourger Muller once in each set to secure a drama-free 6-3 6-4 victory.
The 29-year-old will hold on to his ranking if he reaches the final in Paris.
"I try to focus on playing match after match and putting quality and value into my game. I know that if that's the case, then I can challenge anybody on the world in any surface, in any conditions," Djokovic told a news conference.
It went less smoothly for Murray, who overcame a blip to down Spaniard Fernando Verdasco 6-3 6-7(5) 7-5 before U.S. Open champion Wawrinka was knocked out by German qualifier Jan-Lennard Struff 3-6 6-7(6) 7-6(1).
A long season eventually took its toll on the world number three from Switzerland, who started brightly but ran out of gas after being forced into a second-set tie break.
Struff broke in the seventh game of the third set but Wawrinka broke back to send the match into a decisive tie break, which the German easily won.
Murray strolled through the opening set but lost his focus in the second, netting a backhand to allow Verdasco to level the match. Continued...