Andy Murray made a winning start to the ATP World Tour Finals at the expense of David Ferrer in a high-quality match at the O2 Arena on Monday.
Murray went into the Ilie Nastase Group opener as favourite after moving up to second in the world and winning his previous four matches against Ferrer, but was given a major examination before prevailing 6-4 6-4.
Two-time grand slam champion Murray has never reached the final of the glitzy season-ending tournament, but looks capable of changing that on home soil ahead of Great Britain's Davis Cup final against Belgium next week.
Ferrer produced an industrious display and caused Murray plenty of problems, but the second seed just had too much for the world number seven in an enthralling encounter in London.
The Spaniard went on the attack in the first game of the match on the Murray serve and produced a classy cushioned volley winner en route to earning a break point, but Murray stood firm to hold.
Both players were demonstrating why they have had so much success this year, coming up with a range of shots of the highest order, but it was Murray who eventually gained the upper hand.
Ferrer, a finalist on his WTA Finals debut in 2007, gifted the Scot the first set with a double-fault before hitting back at the start of the second with an immediate break after Murray returned a thumping forehand long.
Murray took that in his stride, though, and levelled at 3-3 with a booming forehand, then secured victory with an overhead to end a gripping contest. Stan Wawrinka and Rafael Nadal will meet in the second match of the group later in the day.
Murray  bt Ferrer  6-4 6-4
Murray - 4
Ferrer - 0
BREAK POINTS WON
FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE
Murray - 60
Ferrer - 49
PERCENTAGE OF POINTS WON ON FIRST/SECOND SERVE
Murray - 64
Ferrer - 49