8 Jan 2017

Djokovic beats Murray in first contest of 2017

8:20 am on 8 January 2017

Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic has sent a strong message that he wants his number one ranking back, beating Scotland's Andy Murray in the final of the Qatar Open in Doha.

Djokovic beat the world number one 6-3 5-7 6-4 in the pair's first meeting since Murray won their season-ending climax at the ATP World Tour finals in November.

Novak Djokovic celebrates winning a point.

Novak Djokovic Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Djokovic looked back to near his peerless best at times in a match of searing quality, though he missed out on three match points and had to repel a roaring Murray comeback before ending the Scot's 28-match, five-tournament winning streak.

The win comes just weeks out from the first major of the year, the Australian Open, where the Serb is the defending champion.

The world number two said it was "the dream start" to 2017 in his build-up to the defence of his Australian Open title, and defeat provided food for thought for Murray, who lost for the 25th time against his old rival.

"It was close, a very physical battle. All the way to the last shot, you never know with Andy. It's no strange occurrence for us to play three sets for three hours," Djokovic said.

"It means a lot. For the last three months of 2016, I haven't felt that confident on court and didn't play that consistent.

"To start 2017 with a win over the world umber one and my biggest rival was a dream start, so I'm hoping I can get the best out of it."

- Reuters, RNZ,