4 March 2017 -- Dubai, UAE: Andy Murray became the first British champion at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships as he defeated Fernando Verdasco 6-3, 6-2. It was his best win over the Spaniard since Miami almost exactly eight years ago, and comes after he finished as runner-up to Roger Federer in Dubai in 2012. Incredibly, it was his seventh final in his last eight tournaments and 14th in his last 16, and he has won 37 of his last 39 matches.
The first three games went against serve before Verdasco held for 3-1, but Murray broke to level at 3-3 and moved ahead for the first time after holding for 4-3. Murray then began to take charge, as Verdasco dropped serve after leading 40-0 to give Murray a 5-3 lead, and the top seed went on to serve out the set at love, winning the last nine points of the set. In the second set Murray broke to lead 2-1, and again on his third break point to lead 5-2 as Verdasco found no answer to his opponent's dynamic shot-making.
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"Yeah, it's obviously nice to win," said Murray. "You know, I played much better as the match went on. Obviously started a little bit slow. Yeah, I mean, I was solid. You know, I wasn't afraid to sort of attack his forehand side. He's got one of the best forehands, but I tried to move him around the court as much as I could. I defended pretty well. Moved well. Served a lot better as the match went on. It was obviously good to win the first tournament here."
Murray came close to defeat when they played each other in Paris at the end of last season, but Murray thought Verdasco's challenge was weaker this time.
"He didn't hit his forehand particularly well, so I just kept going there, really. He made a lot of mistakes off that side. Then, yeah, I mean, wasn't maybe serving as well as he has in some of the matches. He wasn't serving that big. All week he was going for more high percentage serving, and (tonight) I was able to put a lot of returns back in play. Once we were in the rallies, like I say, he wasn't hitting his forehand as well as he can. You know, I was able to dictate a lot of the points and was a bit more solid."
(l-r) Sinead El Sibai, Senior Vice President Marketing Dubai Duty Free; Ramesh Cidambi, Chief Operating Officer of Dubai Duty Free; Colm McLouglin, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free; Fernando Verdasco; His Highness Sheikh Hasher Bin Maktoum Al Maktoum, President of Tennis Emirates; Andy Murray; Salah Tahlak, Tournament Director; His Highness Sheikh Ahmed Al Jaber Al Sabah, Chairman of the Asia Tennis Federation, President of Arab and Kuwait Tennis Federation; Abdul Rahman Falaknaz, Vice President of Tennis Emirates
Verdasco said, "It was obviously a really difficult final to win, but I came trying everything and giving everything. Just, of course, he doesn't put the things easy to you. He push you. And at the same time, I didn't really feel as comfortable or hitting the ball as clean as days before. Also, he's used to it, to play matches like this more than me. I think physically I was not that fresh. I felt that kind of like in the balls that I needed to stretch so much, or he opened the court so much. And obviously even when I had a little bit of advantage in the first set with the breaks up, I couldn't really find my rhythm. Of course it's disappointing. Even if he is number one in the world, I want to win."
(l-r) Sinead El Sibai, Senior Vice President Marketing Dubai Duty Free; Ramesh Cidambi, Chief Operating Officer of Dubai Duty Free; Colm McLouglin, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free; Horia Tecau; His Highness Sheikh Hasher Bin Maktoum Al Maktoum, President of Tennis Emirates; Salah Tahlak, Tournament Director; Jean-Julien Rojer; His Highness Sheikh Ahmed Al Jaber Al Sabah, Chairman of the Asia Tennis Federation, President of Arab and Kuwait Tennis Federation; Abdul Rahman Falaknaz, Vice President of Tennis Emirates
Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau claimed the doubles title with a 4-6 6-3 10-3 win over Rohan Bopanna and Marcin Matkowski. It is their 13th title together, which includes both Wimbledon and the ATP World Tour Finals in 2015. It is Rojer's 22nd doubles title and Tecau's 30th. Bopanna was seeking his fourth Dubai title after winning in 2012, 2014 and 2015, all with different partners.
"We have been able to celebrate our 25th anniversary with two of the most dramatic and entertaining matches in the history of the tournament, as Roger Federer was defeated by qualifier Evgeny Donskoy and Andy Murray was challenged so strongly by Philipp Kohlschrieber," said Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free, the tournament owners and organisers. "We congratulate both Elina Svitolina and Andy Murray on their victories, and our doubles champions too. They have all produced tennis of the very highest quality throughout the tournament, and we now look forward to the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships 2017!"
Tournament director Salah Tahlak said, "Last year saw plenty of surprises during the WTA week of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, and this year most of the surprises came during our 25th anniversay of the ATP tournament, with Roger Federer suffering only his third defeat by a qualifier in 10 years and Andy Murray pushed to the limit by Philipp Kohlschreiber. The excitement and drama could not have been more intense and both matches will be remembered for years by everyone who saw them. We look forward to more of the same next year."
The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships is owned and organised by Dubai Duty Free, and held under the patronage of H. H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.