(Reuters) - World number one Andy Murray won his first title of 2017 with a 6-3 6-2 victory over unseeded Spaniard Fernando Verdasco in the Dubai Tennis Championships final on Saturday.
Murray, who had won 12 of his past 13 matches against the Spaniard, started slowly and was broken in the first game before breaking back in what was a nervous start by both players.
The heavy-hitting Verdasco cracked a series of powerful winners to break an uncomfortable-looking Murray again in the third game and consolidated to hold for a 3-1 lead.
Despite a shaky serving performance, Murray, helped by a string of Verdasco errors, reeled off five successive games to take the first set 6-3.
Murray continued in the same vein in the second set and slowly began to dictate from the baseline on the back of an improved serve to open up a 3-1 lead which he did not relinquish.
The three-times grand slam winner, who cut a frustrated figure throughout an uncharacteristically sloppy performance, sealed victory with a powerful serve to claim his 45th career title.
(Reporting by Tom Hayward, editing by Ed Osmond)