Djokovic snaps Murray streak

Djokovic snaps Murray streak

Serbian ace begins season with thrilling win over World No 1

Djokovic snaps Murray streak

Novak Djokovic brought world number one Andy Murray's 28-match winning streak to an end in Doha on Saturday to retain the Qatar Open title in a three-set thriller.

Serb star Djokovic won 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 in a high-quality, action-packed match between the two best players in the world lasting almost three hours.

It is Djokovic's 25th career victory over Murray and puts down an early-season marker against his great British rival, before the Australian Open later this month.

Describing Murray as his "biggest rival", he said both players had "dragged each other" to their limits.

"Every match we play is a huge challenge, you have to accept and expect a great battle," Djokovic told reporters.

Despite going into the third set showing signs of frustration and weariness, Djokovic was able to claw away any momentum Murray had to secure his second successive title in Qatar and the $209,665 first prize.

A break of Murray's serve in the seventh game of the final set -- when the Scot looked most likely to win -- proved decisive. It was Murray's first competitive defeat since losing to Juan Martin del Potro in the Davis Cup back in September.

Dimitrov triumphs

Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov ended a two-and-a-half year trophy drought on Sunday after outlasting Kei Nishikori of Japan in an absorbing final at the Brisbane International.

The 6-2, 2-6, 6-3 win at the Pat Rafter arena was the 25-year-old's first in four attempts against world number five Nishikori and will boost his confidence ahead of the Australian Open, which starts on January 16 in Melbourne.

Dimitrov, a former world number eight, had seen his ranking plummet to 40 last July, before he improved in the second half of the season to climb back up to 17.

After surviving three break points during his first two service games, Dimitrov went on to break Nishikori and then won four consecutive games to close out the set.

Yet the 27-year-old Nishikori, the 2014 US Open runner-up, fought back in the second set, breaking Dimitrov twice to level the match.

The Japanese took a lengthy medical time-out before the deciding set, which seemed to hand the momentum back to Dimitrov.

The Bulgarian, who defeated top seed and defending champion Milos Raonic in the semifinal, got the decisive break in the eighth game to go 5-3 up and then served out the match for his fifth career title.

Kuznetsova wins

Svetlana Kuznetsova opened the defence of her Sydney International title with a comfortable 6-1, 6-4 victory over Irina-Camelia Begu on Sunday as the Australian Open warm-up event suffered a pair of big-name withdrawals.

The Russian fifth seed started strongly by winning 10 of the first 11 games and after her Romanian opponent rallied in the second set to tie it up at 4-4, Kuznetsova broke again in the ninth game and served out the victory in 77 minutes.