British number one Andy Murray survived a tense encounter against Marcos Baghdatis to progress into the second round of the Japan Open in Tokyo.
The victory continues Murray's hopes of taking the world number three spot from Roger Federer.
After defeating Donald Young in the final of the Thailand Open at Bangkok, Murray had expressed his hope of usurping 17-time grand slam winner Federer from his third ranking during the upcoming ATP matches in Europe.
Roger always plays very well on the European indoor courts, so I'm sure I'm going to have to win a lot more matches if I want to finish as number three, said Murray. That's the goal and I'll keep working hard to give myself a shot at doing that.
Murray won the thriller against Baghdatis 7-6 (7-4) 2-6 6-4 although he was on the verge of losing out for a fourth time in five encounters with the Cypriot.
The Scot displayed strength of character to come back from 3-1 down in the decider, while the two players traded breaks of serve in the opening set.
The first set went into a tie-breaker, after both players broke serve, in which Murray landed the crucial blow to take the set. However, Baghdatis battled back with purpose, taking the second set 6-2 and pushing the game into the decider.
Since his loss to Rafael Nadal in the semifinals of the US Open, Murray had strung together a run of 17 consecutive victories. That run seemed to be headed towards its climax after Baghdatis went up 3- in the final set. However, Murray fought back impressively to claim victory.
Murray will next face American Alex Bogomolov Jr in the second round.
After the victory, Murray admitted that the change from playing outdoors to indoors was a factor.
He played well under the conditions. It took me longer to find the range, Murray said. The hardest thing for me always is changing from playing outdoors to indoors.
It was very tough, it was very long, I did a lot of running in the first two sets. He is a tough guy to play against. He has a big serve. He can hurt you in many ways on the court.