ANDY Murray beat Luxembourg’s Gilles Muller 6-4 7-5 in the first round of the Dubai Championships.
Murray took one hour and 45 minutes to dispatch Muller and set up a second round tie against Joao Sousa.
The Scot secured a break in the fifth game of the first set to take the first stanza and broke in the third game of the second as it looked like Murray was set to canter to the win.
However, Muller managed to break him as he served for the match at 5-4 but Murray managed an immediate break back before serving it out.
“I think the end of both sets I didn’t serve so well,” said Murray.
“But apart from that, I didn’t give him any opportunities really. I feel like I got a little bit unlucky at the end of the second set.
“He got a couple of net cords in that last game, the 5-4 game where I got broken, and did very well to respond straightaway and get the break right back. I thought I played a fairly high quality match.”
Novak Djokovic also progressed, beating Vasek Pospisil 6-4 6-4 in 78 minutes to get his quest for a fifth Dubai title off to a solid start – despite meeting stiff resistance at times.
“I’m still looking for that rhythm on the court,” said Djokovic.
“But I managed to stay mentally tough. I was patient in rallies, I thought. As soon as we get through the rally, I have a better chance of winning. He’s a very flashy player, aggressive, goes after his shots.
“He served well first set. I just utilised my opportunities. When his first serve percentage dropped, I knew that’s my chance. I won a lot of those second serve points.
“I think that’s what decided the match, even though my serve wasn’t at the level where I wanted it to be today. So hopefully the next match can be better.”
British number two James Ward lost 6-4 6-4 to Spain’s Feliciano Lopez.
Tomas Berdych also made it through, battling to a 7-6(2) 6-4 win over Jeremy Chardy.
“I made it complicated a bit more than usual,” admitted Berdych. “But it’s important that I won the last point of the match and got through it.
“Not every day is going to be perfect. It was a solid day to make.”