Murray battles past Baghdatis in Tokyo

    Scottish tennis star Andy Murray has won 19 ATP Tour titles since turning pro in 2005.

    Story highlights

    • Second seed Andy Murray beats Marcos Baghdatis at the Japan Open
    • Britain's world number four has now won 17 of his last 18 matches
    • Tomas Berdych continues his push for place at ATP World Tour Finals with victory
    • Romanian qualifier Monica Niculescu continues her run in women's draw
    World number four Andy Murray continued his recent good form on Wednesday with a battling 7-6 (7-4) 2-6 6-4 first-round win over Marcos Baghdatis at the Japan Open.
    Britain's Murray, fresh from victory at the Thailand Open last week, was a break down to the Cypriot in the final set but fought back to eventually seal the match on Baghdatis' serve in two hours and 33 minutes.
    "At the end of the third set, we were both playing good tennis," second seed Murray told the ATP Tour's official website. "But in the first two he was the better player. Marcos is a very, very good player.
    "He might not have played his best tennis so far this year, but he has been close to the top 10 before. He has a lot of talent, a big serve and has many ways to hurt you on the court."
    Murray is on a run of 17 wins in his last 18 matches and will be aiming to claim a 20th ATP title in Tokyo.
    The three-time grand slam finalist next faces American Alex Bogomolov Jr., who advanced courtesy of a 6-4 6-4 defeat of Finland's Jarkko Nieminen.
    American No. 1 Mardy Fish became the first player to book his place in the quarterfinals thanks to a 6-2 6-4 win over Latvia's Ernests Gulbis.
    All Wednesday's matches were played under a roof at the Ariake Stadium due to rain in the Japanese capital, and Fish admitted it was challenging to adapt to the changed conditions.
    "I felt great tonight," the 29-year-old said. "I played much better today than I did on Monday. It is difficult for all the players when the conditions change, but it is nice that the tournament has a roof. It didn't affect the way I played."
    Russia's Dimitry Tursunov upset the odds to beat newly-crowned Malaysia Open champion Janko Tipsarevic.
    World No. 13 Tipsarevic lost out to Tursunov, 28, in a marathon contest which finished 7-6 (8-6) 6-7 (7-3) 7-5 after more than three hours of play.
    "Towards the end of the third set I didn't want to lose," said Tursunov. "We'd already played two hours. I definitely got lucky in the last game, but I think that's how tennis goes. I need my wins any way I can get them right now."
    Elsewhere, world No. 10 Tomas Berdych moved into the last eight of the China Open in Beijing with a straight-forward 6-2 6-0 triumph against Philipp Kohlschreiber.
    The Czech is still in contention for one of eight places at the season-ending World Tour Finals and will continue his quest for a spot in London against Spaniard Fernando Verdasco.
    World No. 23 Verdasco fought back from a set down against Italian Flavio Cipolla to claim a 2-6 6-1 6-2 success and a place in the quarterfinals.
    "It was a very difficult match," said Verdasco, 27. "He was a player I had never played before. It is always tricky at the start, when you are trying to figure out his strengths and weaknesses."
    "In the second set, I played with more spin and didn't take as many risks. I came back and in the second and third sets I played very well."
    Russia's Mikhail Youzhny beat a higher-ranked opponent for the second round in a row, eliminating Verdasco's compatriot and world No. 28 Feliciano Lopez.
    Youzhny, who eliminated fourth seed Nicolas Almagro in the opening round, scored a 6-7 (5-7) 6-2 7-5 win over Lopez in the second.
    In another three-set match, Croatia's Ivan Ljubicic overcame Florian Mayer of Germany 6-0 2-6 6-3.
    In the women's draw, Li Na's conqueror Monica Niculescu continued to shine as she advanced at the expense of South Africa's Chanelle Scheepers with a 6-2 6-1 win.
    "Beating Li Na was my best result ever," Romanian Niculescu told the WTA Tour's official website. "My confidence is really high right now. To play that well on the center court in front of so many fans was unbelievable."
    Niculescu's fellow qualifier Virginie Razzano will be her opponent in the third round, after the Frenchwoman knocked out 16th seed Roberta Vinci 7-6 (9-7) 6-0.
    Second seed Victoria Azarenka of Belarus is safely into the last 16 thanks to a 7-6 (10-8) 6-3 defeat of Slovenia's Polona Hercog, while 11th seed Agnieszka Radwanska beat Chinese wildcard Zheng Jie.
    Meanwhile, Seville will host the men's Davis Cup final between Spain and Argentina on December 2-4, it was announced on Wednesday.
    It will be the second time the Andalusian capital has staged the prestigious event, with Spain beating the U.S. in 2004.
    Spain qualified as the home nation by beating France in last month's semis, while Argentina ended Serbia's reign.