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Murray Passes Baghdatis Test; Fish First Into QFs

Tokyo, Japan

Murray© Getty ImagesAndy Murray battled to a first-round victory over Marcos Baghdatis.

In a first-round match between two players involved in finals on the ATP World Tour last week, Bangkok champion Andy Murray held off Kuala Lumpur runner-up Marcos Baghdatis to advance at the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships with a 7-6(4), 2-6, 6-4 victory on Wednesday. Every singles match was played under a retractable roof at the Ariake stadium.

After initially trailing by a break in the third set, Murray fought back and broke serve in the final game of the match to claim victory in two hours and 33 minutes. It was his second victory in five meetings with former World No. 8 Baghdatis.

"It was very tough and long," said Murray. "I did a lot of the running, especially in the first two sets. It was very different conditions from last week [in Bangkok]. I think he played very well. At the end of the third set, we were both playing good tennis, 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." 

World No. 4 Murray has won 17 of his past 18 matches. Prior to capturing his 19th ATP World Tour title at the PTT Thailand Open last week (d. Young), the Scot reached the US Open semi-finals (l. to Nadal) and won the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati (d. Djokovic). The 24 year old is already assured of his place at the season-ending Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.

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Fourth seed Mardy Fish, playing at the ATP World Tour 500 tournament for the first time since 2002, became the first player into the quarter-finals with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Ernests Gulbis. "I felt great tonight," said Fish. "I played much better today that 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."

Fish, who has now won 19 of his past 23 matches, hit four aces and dropped just 13 points on serve, for victory in 77 minutes. The American is currently No. 6 in the Battle for London qualification.

Three days after winning his first ATP World Tour title at the Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur 2011, World No. 13 Janko Tipsarevic came crashing back down to earth as he was beaten in the first round in Tokyo by Dmitry Tursunov, 7-6(6), 6-7(3), 7-5.

World No. 40 Tursunov clinched the pulsating contest, which lasted a minute over three hours, as he broke serve to love in the final game. The Russian improved to a 16-12 match record on the season, highlighted by winning his seventh ATP World Tour title at the UNICEF Open in ‘s-Hertogenbosch.

"It was definitely a tough match; Janko’s playing well," said Tursunov. "Towards the end of the third set I didn’t want to lose, 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 anyway I can get them right now."

The 27-year-old Tipsarevic missed the chance to make up ground in the Battle for London. Following a career-best season, that also saw him reach his first Grand Slam quarter-final at the US Open (l. to Djokovic), the Serbian is 13th in the South African Airways 2011 ATP Year-To-Date Rankings, with the Top 8 to qualify for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.

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