Murray breezes past off-colour Verdasco to claim Dubai title
World number one Andy Murray claimed his first title of 2017 with a 6-3 6-2 victory over an erratic Fernando Verdasco in the final of the Dubai Tennis Championships.
Murray was given a huge scare in the quarter-finals this week when he was forced to save seven match points in an epic, 31-minute second-set tie-break against Philipp Kohlschreiber.
However, after coming through that test and a semi-final with Lucas Pouille, the Scot proved much too strong for Verdasco - who has now lost 13 of their 14 meetings.
The first three games of the final went against serve, Murray broken on two occasions as both players struggled to settle.
However, the top seed gradually raised his level thereafter and frequently punished weak serving from his opponent to claim the first set with a degree of comfort.
After receiving a time violation warning at 30-all in the first game of set two, Verdasco briefly turned up the heat with successive aces - raising the question of why he had not served more powerfully up to that point.
A superb cross-court pass on the run helped Murray break at the next time of asking, though, and there was to be no way back for the Spaniard.
Murray's maiden Dubai title strengthens his position at the top of the ATP rankings, particularly with nearest rival Novak Djokovic defending a huge amount of points in the coming weeks.