The New Year may not have started the way 2016 had ended for Sir Andy Murray, but he insists he will take confidence from his battling performance against ever-present nemesis Novak Djokovic.
The Serb ended Murray’s 28-game unbeaten streak with a 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 victory in the Qatar Open final on Saturday, claiming the first ATP title of the season as his battle with the new world number one enters a different era.
Djokovic had failed to land a top prize since the Toronto Masters in July, thanks in part to Murray’s sensational form that saw him awarded a knighthood in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours.
And while that was set to change in Doha, Murray was not prepared to make it easy for his friend and foe.
“It was a tough one to lose but a great way to start the year,” he said.
“[It was] high level tennis, some of the points were physically tough but a it was a great way to start the year playing like that, and I’m looking forward to the next few weeks.
“We’ve known each other since we were 11 years old, we compete against each other on the court and see each other all over the world.
“We fight each other on the court but get on well of it – I think that’s quite normal.
“It’s been a great week. Hopefully I can come back in years to come.”
In what was the 36th meeting between the pair, Djokovic took the first set, breaking in the eighth game following a string of unforced errors from the Scot.
Murray has never beaten his opponent after losing the first set, but it looked like a change could be on the cards when he fought back from 5-3 down to take the second, reeling off four straight games to bring the tie all-square.
And it seemed like the trophy could be leaving in British hands when Murray continued to lead into the decider.
But after finding himself 0-30 on his own serve at 2-3 down, Djokovic rallied to break Murray for the third time in the match and go on to lift the trophy.
The biggest test for Murray will come in nine days’ time however, as he looks to land the first Australian Open title of his career.
Djokovic will not relinquish his dominance Down Under easily though, having clinched six titles in Melbourne, three of them courtesy of victories over Murray.
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