March 6, 2017
Andy Murray secured his first tournament win of 2017 and his first title at the Dubai Championships.
It was a victory that could well help protect his world number one status right through to the French Open.
The final against Fernando Verdasco was inevitably less remarkable than the incredible 31-minute tie-break in the quarter final, which saw him save seven match points against Philipp Kohlschreiber.
Let’s face it, anyone who can show that kind of defiance probably deserves to win the whole tournament.
And despite dropping his first two service games, Murray still beat Verdasco with relative ease, winning 6-3, 6-2 to claim the silverware.
‘I’m very happy to do it here for the first time,’ said Murray, ‘It’s been a good start to the year.’
That’s a bold statement from a player who, it could be argued, flopped at the Australian Open when that elusive Slam was finally there for the taking.
He had also previously lost to Novak Djokovic in Doha, when he’d been handed the opportunity to leave fans in no doubt about who merited top spot going into 2017.
But the rankings don’t lie, because Murray is now more than 2,000 points ahead of the Serb, who lost recently to Nick Kyrgios in Mexico. Eventual title winner in Acapulco was Novak’s erstwhile Wimbledon conqueror, Sam Querrey.
The American gave Rafael Nadal a second defeat in a final in recent weeks, after Rafa succumbed to the great Roger Federer at the Australian Open in that classic, unforgettable contest between much-loved legends.
Querrey, the world number 40, beat Nadal 6-3, 7-6 (7-3) to remind the tour that he can beat absolutely anyone on his day.
Now the show has moved on to Indian Wells, and we shall see who emerges triumphant in California and beyond.
Murray is doing enough to stay on top of the world, as his 45th career title showed in the Middle East.
But you sense he won’t have it all his own way for very much longer. Too many great players have already wowed the world in 2017. And long may that continue.