NOVAK DJOKOVIC set out his stall as he bids to reclaim the men’s tennis world number one spot from Sir Andy Murray, as he beat the Scot 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 to take the Qatar Open in Doha.
Murray remains top of the pile following the defeat which ends his 28-match, five tournament winning streak on the ATP Tour which stretches back to September.
This was the 36th meeting between the pair, and Murray was victorious the last time they met at the ATP Tour Finals in November, but Djokovic looked back to his best here and the Serb has still never lost to his Scottish rival after winning the first set.
Murray saved three match points to take the second set and level the match, but a Djokovic break in game seven of the deciding third set proved pivotal, and he wrapped up the trophy after a two hour and 54 minutes slog which oozed quality.
After the game, 29-year old Murray said: “It was a tough one to lose, but a great way to start the year. I think it was high-level tennis. Some of the points were physically tough, but a great way to start the new year playing like that, and I look forward to the next few weeks.”
Djokovic said: “Definitely one of the best ways to start the year. After saving five match points and winning yesterday’s semi-final, I had three or four match points in the second set. He turned it around, and I thought: ‘Wow, I hope this is not payback time.’
“To win here, against the biggest rival, is a dream start.”
Both players now head to Melbourne in preparation for the Australian Open, which starts on January 16.