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.
"Definitely one of the best ways to start a year," Djokovic said immediately after his victory.
"I had three or four match points in the second set, he turned it around and I thought: Wow! I hope this isn't payback time!
"He was close... all the way to the last shot you never know with Andy," added Djokovic who was penalized a point in the second set after destroying his racquet as the tension mounted.
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.
Serving for the match, Djokovic secured the title on his fourth match point, having squandered three in the second set when Murray astonishingly recovered from 5-4 down and 40-15 to win three games in a row and force, at that point, an unlikely deciding set.
Despite the victory, Murray retains his world number one ranking.