Paris - France's Richard Gasquet needed five match points to beat Spaniard Fernando Verdasco 7-5, 6-7 (6/8), 6-3 in the second round of the Paris Masters on Tuesday and boost his hopes of qualifying for the end of season World Tour Finals.
The 27-year-old Frenchman and Verdasco traded blows for 2hrs 40mins, in front of a raucous Parisian crowd, before Gasquet finally made it through to the third round where he could meet compatriot Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who is also in the hunt to make the World Tour Finals.
Gasquet wasted two match points at 6-5 up in the second set before Verdasco took it to a final set by edging the tie-break 8-6.
However the right-hander from Beziers forced a crucial break in the decider to go 4-3 up and this time he kept his nerve to set up a last-16 tie against either Tsonga or Kei Nishikori of Japan who play later Tuesday.
The win for Gasquet, who is clinging to the eighth and final place for London which is available as Andy Murray is injured, keeps the pressure on Tsonga who is one place behind him in the World Tour rankings.
Earlier Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov continued his rich vein of form as he marched into the second round with a three-set win over French veteran Michael Llodra.
The lanky 22-year-old lost the opening set in a tie-break before taking control and setting up a meeting against Italian 16th seed Fabio Fognini with a 6-7 (5/7), 6-3, 6-3.
"The difference was when I started missing my first serves. I've really had difficulties serving really hard lately, so if my first serve isn't perfect, then he returns well and it's tough for me," explained a dejected Llodra.
"He's extremely serious in training and I believe we'll see him (Dimitrov) soon go to the top." added Llodra.
Llodra's compatriot Nicolas Mahut fared better as he fired down eight aces to overwhelm Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov 7-6 (8/6), 6-1.
Mahut, who played the longest match in history against American John Isner at Wimbledon 2010, won 93 per cent of his first serve points and broke the spirit of his opponent in the crucial opening set tie-break.
The 1.90m (6ft 3in), 25-year-old never dropped his serve while breaking his opponent three times in a one-sided finale to the match.
He faces 15th seeded compatriot Gilles Simon in an all-French second round tie, a player he met recently.
"Well, we played each other three weeks ago and I lost in straight sets," said Mahut.
"But I'm going to use that match to do the same thing tomorrow (Wednesday), I hope I can win that match tomorrow." added Mahut.
Spaniard Marcel Granollers will face compatriot and world number one Rafael Nadal on Wednesday after he breezed past Russian Dmitry Tursunov 6-4, 6-4.
Another Spaniard Pablo Andujar took full advantage of an injury suffered by Gael Monfils on the eve of his first round match against Canadian Vasek Pospisil.
The 'lucky loser' outlasted the world number 32, although he needed five match points to close out the match, prevailing 6-4, 2-6, 6-4.
His reward is a second round meeting with Czech sixth seed Thomas Berdych.
World number two Novak Djokovic makes his tournament bow in the final evening match when he takes on French qualifier Pierre-Hugues Herbert.
Results from the Paris Masters Series tournament on Tuesday (x denotes seeding):
Richard Gasquet (FRA x9) bt Fernando Verdasco (ESP) 7-5, 6-7 (6/8), 6-3
Marcel Granollers (ESP) bt Dmitry Tursunov (RUS) 6-4, 6-4
Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) bt Michael Llodra (FRA) 6-7 (5/7), 6-3, 6-3
Michal Przysiezny (POL) bt Jarkko Nieminen (FIN) 6-3, 7-6 (8/6)
Nicolas Mahut (FRA) bt Oleksandr Dolgopolov Jr. (UKR) 7-6 (8/6), 6-1
Pablo Andujar (ESP) bt Vasek Pospisil (CAN) 6-4, 2-6, 6-4
Ivan Dodig (CRO) bt Edouard Roger-Vasselin (FRA) 7-6 (8/6), 6-4