By Jake Davies
- Andy Murray  defeats Fernando Verdasco 6-3 6-2
- The World No.1 lifts his first title of 2017 following first title win in Dubai
- Murray extends lead over Novak Djokovic in the ATP rankings
DUBAI, UAE – Andy Murray claimed his first Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships title, and goes into Indian Wells with some momentum.
Andy Murray  defeats Fernando Verdasco 6-3 6-2
Great Britain’s Andy Murray recovered from a lacklustre start to beat Spain’s Fernando Verdasco in straight sets to claim the 2017 Dubai title. It looked as if Verdasco, who is having a good 2017 season himself, was going to trouble Murray as he exchanged breaks with the Brit twice in the first set, but the World No.1 responded with some of his best returns on display.
Murray managed to get the match back on serve at 4-3* in the first set before the 33-year-old Spaniard let go of a 40-0 lead to give up his service game with a forehand unforced error. Murray would then go on to win the first set comfortably and reasserted his authority on proceedings by continuing his dominance over the Spaniard in a 13-1 head-to-head record, dating back to 2007.
The Brit put his foot on the accelerator in the second and the forehand passing shot winner to get the first break was a sign of things to come as Murray served out the match in style to beat the 2009 Australian Open semi-finalist.
Although he has won 45 career titles, Murray will value this title win in Dubai. This re-establishes his position as the World No.1 after a poor result in Melbourne where he lost in the fourth round to Mischa Zverev. Murray left a statement of intent to the rest of the field going into an important period of the season in Indian Wells and Miami.
He has not enjoyed the greatest of success in Indian Wells, the first Masters 1000 event of the year, but Murray will feel that if there ever was going to be a time where he improved his record in the desert, it ought to be after a very positive title win in Dubai.
Murray has a real opportunity at pulling even further away from Novak Djokovic. The World No.2, who fell in the quarter-finals of Acapulco this week, is defending title wins in Indian Wells and Miami, so will not gain any points in his quest for regaining the World No.1 ranking.
It looks increasingly unlikely that Murray will give up that World No.1 spot until the French Open because of the amount of points that Djokovic has to defend in the first half of the season. The second half of the 2017 season, from Queen’s onwards, is where Murray will truly have to tighten his grip on the coveted No.1 spot as he is defending seven ATP titles including the Wimbledon title.
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