- ATP Tour
Federer downs Murray to claim fifth Dubai crown
Roger Federer denied Andy Murray his second title of the season as the Swiss claimed his fifth Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship crown with a straight sets victory.
Murray, who condemned world No. 1 Novak Djokovic to his first defeat of the season on Friday, looked to be paying the price for his semi-final win as he slumped to a 7-5 6-4 defeat.
Federer needed two tiebreaks to find his way past Juan Martin del Potro, but he showed no signs of fatigue as he started brightly against the Scot.
After an edgy start, Murray began to settle into his rhythm and had his first sniff of a break - but failed to make the most of his chance as two break points passed him by.
It proved to be costly as Federer grabbed the first break of the match to lead 6-5. A drop shot took Murray by surprise, and although he managed to get a racket to the ball, his shot spun wide as Federer forged three break points.
Murray showed impressive spirit to claw his way back to deuce, but Federer continued to press, pushing the Scot behind the baseline and he finally grabbed the break at the fifth time of asking before coolly serving out for the set.
Federer tightened his grip on the match, grabbing an early break in the second set to lead 2-1 before a simple hold saw him move 3-1 ahead. However, Murray refused to lie down and clawed his way back with a morale-boosting love service hold before capitalising on some wasteful play from Federer to level.
It was the first time that Federer had been broken all week; Murray showing impressive defence before turning on the attack to bury Federer's poorly executed drop for break point before Federer's attempted backhand smash found the net.
Murray was furious with himself when he gifted Federer the chance to break straight back but he hung on, sealing a crucial service game with an ace. However, it was ultimately his serve that let him down - against Djokovic his first-serve success rate was 71 per cent - against Federer it dipped below 50.
Admittedly Federer's success rate was uncharacteristically low - but he dropped fewer points on serve and made the most of his chances as he claimed a 72nd ATP Tour title and his second in three weeks following his Rotterdam triumph a fortnight ago.
For Murray, who had never previously made it past the quarter-finals, he will be pleased to get some matches under his belt and will head to Indian Wells boosted by his win over Djokovic, but knowing he has more work to do if he is to break his grand slam duck.