Andy Murray beats Fernando Verdasco to win first Dubai Championships title

Andy Murray
Murray's previous best in Dubai was finishing runner-up in 2012

Britain's Andy Murray saw off Spaniard Fernando Verdasco in straight sets to win the Dubai Championships for the first time.

The world number one dropped his first two service games but recovered to win 6-3 6-2 in one hour and 14 minutes.

It is Murray's first tournament win of 2017 and the 45th of his career, which will see him extend his lead over Novak Djokovic at the top of the rankings.

"I'm obviously very happy to do it here for the first time," said Murray.

"It's been a good start to the year."

Slow start, strong finish

Murray went into the final with a 12-1 record against Verdasco, but the Scot made a slow start to the final, losing his first two service games and throwing in four double faults.

However, Murray managed to get himself level at 3-3 and was rarely troubled again.

Fernando Verdasco and Andy Murray
Murray beat Verdasco for the 13th time in 14 meetings since 2007

Verdasco, 33, let a 40-0 lead slip in game eight, firing a forehand wide on break point and Murray served out a set in which his returning ability had made up for some erratic serving.

The Briton's game came together in the second set and a forehand pass gave him the early break for a 2-1 lead.

When Murray ran down a seemingly hopeless point to force another break point at 4-2 it was as good as over for Verdasco, and the top seed ended with the kind of clinical service game he had lacked at the start.

The final proved a far more straightforward contest than his quarter-final against Philipp Kohlschreiber, which saw Murray save seven match points and win an epic 31-minute tie-break.

"Often when you get through matches like that it settles you down for the rest of the tournament," said Murray.

"It's been quite a few late finishes this week. Maybe the last couple of matches, I didn't start as well as I would like. It's been the same for all the players, a bit tricky with the rain. Once I got going today, I was moving well and I finished strong."

Fernando Verdasco
Verdasco, the world number 35, had never been past round two before in Dubai

Murray confident ahead of California

Any major celebrations will have to wait as Murray heads to the airport and a 16-hour flight to Los Angeles, with the Indian Wells Masters getting under way next week.

Murray, who will play his first match in the Californian desert next weekend, hopes to improve on a relatively modest record of just one final appearance back in 2009.

Last year, he lost in the third round at both Indian Wells and two weeks later at the Miami Masters.

"I struggled at Indian Wells and Miami last year, I didn't play so well," he said. "This year has given me great momentum."

Analysis

BBC tennis correspondent Russell Fuller

Despite dropping his opening two service games, this turned into a straightforward win for Murray.

A first title of 2017 takes Murray over 2,000 points clear of Novak Djokovic at the top of the world rankings, and means he is extremely unlikely to be overtaken by anyone until at least the French Open.

Murray's form in Dubai this week suggests not only has he got over his bout of shingles, but also that the defeat to Mischa Zverev at the Australian Open is no indication of a deeper malaise.

Top Stories