Andy Murray’s bid for a first ATP Tour title in more than three years ended in a straight-set defeat by Daniil Medvedev in the Qatar Open final.
The 35-year-old Briton, whose last win came at the European Open in 2019, lost 6-4 6-4 to the Russian third seed.
It was a second title in less than a week for Medvedev, who won the Rotterdam Open on Sunday.
Murray had reached the final with four three-set victories, saving eight match points along the way.
Having rescued five of those match points against Jiri Lehecka in Friday’s semi-final, Murray got off to a laboured start on Saturday with Medvedev securing an early double break and racing to a 4-1 lead.
The Scot broke back at 4-2 and recovered to hold serve, but Russian Medvedev closed out the set without any further mishap.
Murray had an equally poor start in the second set, losing his opening service game. But the three-time Grand Slam winner rallied from 40-15 down and a superb backhand saw him level the scores at 3-3.
However, unforced errors from Murray allowed Medvedev to break again at 5-4 and serve for the title.
With the scores at 40-30, the world number eight double-faulted on his first match point, but he saw off Murray with a sublime lob on his second attempt.
“Daniil is an incredible player. He is one of my favourite players to watch and one of the best players on the tour,” said Murray.
“Obviously it didn’t finish how I wanted but I had some amazing matches and created some great memories.
“I am proud of my week and the work me and my team have done to get me back at this stage.”
It is a 17th career title for 2021 US Open champion Medvedev who has now beaten Murray in all three of their meetings.
“Today was a big fight,” he said.
“Both of us sometimes were playing bad, then suddenly both of us were playing amazing and I am happy to win.”
Norrie reaches back-to-back finals
British number one Cameron Norrie will play in his second final in seven days after beating Spain’s Bernabe Zapata Miralles in the semi-finals of the Rio Open.
The 27-year-old beat Spain’s Zapata Miralles 6-2 3-6 7-6 (7-3) to reach his third final of 2023.
A week ago, Norrie missed out on a fifth career title as he lost the Argentina Open final to Carlos Alcaraz.
World number two and top seed Alcaraz will be Norrie’s final opponent once again after the Spaniard beat Chile’s Nicolas Jarry 6-7 (2-7) 7-5 6-0 in Saturday’s other semi-final.
Krejcikova beats Swiatek to claim Dubai title
Czech Barbora Krejcikova defeated world number one Iga Swiatek as she claimed the Dubai WTA title on Saturday.
The 2021 French Open champion beat Poland’s Swiatek 6-4 6-2 in the final.
En route to her sixth career title, Krejcikova also defeated second-ranked Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka in the quarter-finals before overcoming world number three Jessica Pegula in the semi-finals.
The 27-year-old, who is set to climb from 30th to 16th when the rankings are updated on Monday, becomes just the fifth woman to defeat the top three in the world at the same event.
“It’s a huge achievement,” Krejcikova said.
“I was enjoying all the matches and I love playing on big courts with the great atmosphere. I hope there’s going to be more matches like this for me.”