Novak Djokovic feared revenge from Andy Murray for his general dominance of their rivalry when the world number one fought back in the second set of the Qatar Open final.
Djokovic successfully defended his title on Saturday, overcoming a resilient Murray 6-3 5-7 6-4 after two hours and 54 minutes.
The victory ended Murray's 28-match winning streak and marked the 25th triumph for Djokovic in the 46 meetings he has had with the Briton.
Murray now goes into the Australian Open still having never beaten Djokovic after losing the first set.
By contrast, Djokovic has pulled off a series of comebacks against Murray, most recently in the final of the French Open, which he won in four sets after dropping the first.
But, speaking after the match, he said: "I had three, four match points in the second set, he turned it around and I thought 'wow I hope this is not payback time'.
"He was close, he was 3-2 up, love-30 [in the decider], a couple of long exchanges.
"All the way to the last shot you never know with Andy, it's no strange occurrence for both of us to play three sets for three hours.
"It's a very physical battle, we're both going to need a little bit of time to recover from that and get ready for Melbourne.
"[It is] definitely one of the best ways to start the year.
"It means to me a lot, the last three to four months of 2016 I haven't felt that confident on the court, I didn't play so consistent.
"So to start off the year with a win against the number one in the world, the biggest rival, it's a dream start."