Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the 2011 Vienna champion, lost ground in his race for a place at the ATP year-end championships after going down 6-4 3-6 6-1 to Lukas Rosol in the Austrian Open second round.
The Frenchman, who started the week on provisional ninth for the eight-man finals next month in London, all but admitted his chances are gone after tasting defeat against the Czech player, four days after losing the Shanghai Masters final against world No.1 Novak Djokovic.
“Today, I didn’t play good enough to win. I tried, but things did not work for me,” Tsonga said.
The former Australian Open finalist accepted the fact he would most likely not earn a spot in London, though he could well make the trip as a well-paid alternate.
The defeat strengthened the hand of David Ferrer, who spent a mere 62 minutes in delivering a crushing 6-1 6-1 defeat to fellow Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez to stay in the thick of the London points chase on eighth with the last two spots in the field still to be claimed.
The top seed Ferrer, who lost the final here a year ago at the Stadthalle to British No.1 Andy Murray, is now on the brink of a place in the English capital.
Kei Nishikori, who stands seventh, is not playing this week.
He leads Ferrer by 455 points, with a title at the revitalised Vienna event now worth 500 points.
But the Japanese later withdrew with an existing shoulder injury from next week’s Basel event and could be in qualifying danger due to his inactivity.
“Of course I have pressure, but I’m in a good position,” said Ferrer, winner of four titles this year who missed three spring-summer months with an elbow injury.
The Spaniard won with five aces to the same number of double-faults for Garcia-Lopez, with Ferrer breaking five times.
Ferrer, 33, takes a perfect 15-0 record over Fabio Fognini into his quarter-final after the Italian eighth seed advanced 6-1 6-4 against Czech Radek Stepanek
South African second seed Kevin Anderson used 15 aces to good advantage in a 6-7 (4-7) 6-3 7-5 comeback win over Czech Jiri Vesely to next take on American Steve Johnson, a 6-4 6-7 (7-9) 6-4 winner over Poland’s Jerzy Janowicz.