Novak Djokovic prevails in first battle of 2017 with Andy Murray at the Qatar Open

The Serbian defended his title despite a comeback from Murray

Novak Djokovic pictured at the ATP World Tour Finals in November 2016.

Alastair Grant AP/Press Association Images

Novak Djokovic got his 2017 off to a winning start by defeating Andy Murray in the final of the Qatar Open.

The Serbian edged his 36th meeting with Murray 6-3 5-7 6-4 in just under three hours, despite Murray reviving from a set down to level the match. 

Murray came into this tournament on the back of a shock semi-final exit at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi against David Goffin of Belgium.

Speaking after the defeat to his rival, Murray said:

"Its a tough one to lose. It was high level tennis, some of the points were physically tough. But it's a great way to star the new year and I look forward to the next few weeks."

Meanwhile, Djokovic described the victory 'against the biggest rival,' as 'a dream start.'

The pair will now head for the Australian Open in Melbourne, which starts on January 16th. Murray is still chasing an elusive first title at this tournament, while Djokovic is the reigning champion after capturing his sixth crown last year.

Djokovic will be hoping to add more success later this year, as he looks to arrest the Wimbledon title from Murray as well as reclaim his world number one ranking which Murray also currently holds.