Andy Murray beats Gilles Muller in Dubai first round
- Murray through in straight sets
- Djokovic wins first match since Australia
- Qualifier Ward beaten by Lopez
Britain's Andy Murray began his Dubai Championships campaign with a 6-4 7-5 win over Luxembourg's Gilles Muller.
The Scot, 27, came through in one hour and 45 minutes and will play Joao Sousa in round two, three weeks after beating the Portuguese at the Australian Open.
Top seed Novak Djokovic beat Canada's Vasek Pospisil 6-4 6-4 in round one.
British number two James Ward could not build on his two qualifying wins as he lost 6-4 6-4 to Spain's Feliciano Lopez, the world number 13.
The Englishman will now head to Glasgow for Great Britain's Davis Cup tie against the United States, which takes place from 6-8 March at the City's Emirates Arena.
Murray will hope to delay his return to Scotland with a good run in Dubai and despite six double faults and a failure to serve out the match at the first attempt, he opened with victory over an in-form Muller.
|Djokovic chasing half-century|
|Djokovic is playing for the first time since he won the Australian Open on 1 February and is looking to become only the 12th man in the open era to win 50 titles. He is currently tied with his coach, Boris Becker, on 49.|
"I made him work very hard on his service games," said Murray. "That was something I wanted to try to do from early on.
"The end of both sets I didn't serve so well but apart from that, I didn't give him any opportunities really."
Muller, coached by Briton Jamie Delgado, held on gamely in the face of four break points during a 19-minute third game but Murray made the breakthrough swiftly at the next opportunity.
One break proved enough to give the world number three the set, although he only narrowly came through an unconvincing service game to seal it after 62 minutes.
An early break in the second put Murray in complete control, the quality of his returns constantly troubling the Muller serve, and a straightforward win looked on the cards until he stumbled at the finish line.
Muller got the benefit of a net cord to level at 5-5 but Murray upped his game to break for a third time and made no mistake as he closed it out at the second attempt.
Ward, 28, was playing on the nearby Court One and pushed hard in the first set against Lopez, but he failed to convert any of six break points and the Spaniard grabbed his solitary chance.
Lopez moved 2-0 clear in the second and despite saving four match points on serve in game nine, Ward could not get the break back required and went down in straight sets.