Valencia (Spain): World number four Andy Murray, playing in his first tournament for nearly two months after recovering from a wrist injury, took on Russia's Mikhail Youzhny in the final of the inaugural Valencia Open on November 8, looking for his sixth title of the year and the 14th of his career.
The pair had met only once before, in St Petersburg in 2007, with Murray winning in three sets before going on to take the title.
Youzhny is unpredictable and, although his impressive single-handed backhand was in evidence in the early stages, he came unstuck in the fourth game as the Scot, whose last title came at the Masters event in Canada in August, gained an early break.
The 22-year-old withstood a barrage of power from Spaniard Fernando Verdasco on Saturday, before coming through in three sets and looked more comfortable on Sunday, cementing his break with a stunning cross-court forehand.
Murray was in control by now and it was no surprise when he broke again for a 5-1 lead, courtesy of another error from Youzhny.
The Russian put up more of a fight in the next game and retrieved one of the breaks.
Murray made no mistake second time round, though, clinching the first set 6-3 with an ace.
Youzhny, ranked 23rd in the world, has been in good form recently, reaching the final in Tokyo last month and then winning his fifth ATP World Tour title at home in Moscow.
But he was immediately under pressure at the start of the second set and could not prevent Murray picking up another break.
Murray was playing a more offensive game than against Verdasco - and frequently had Youzhny scrambling all over the court.
The unseeded Russian simply could not generate any degree of dominance on his serve, and he quickly found himself two breaks 3-0 behind.
Youzhny had two chances to break back in the next game, but Murray held firm, although the 27-year-old did manage to get his name on the scoreboard in his next service game.
It was merely delaying the inevitable, however, and an ace sealed a most dominant of victories for the British number one.
"Yeah, I started the match well, you know, which is important. Both of us had long matches earlier, sorry yesterday. You know, the start was going to be key, you know, and I played a pretty clever match. Didn't give him too many opportunities and closed it out well," said Andy Murray, the new Valencia Open champion.
Murray can now celebrate winning six titles in one season for the first time in his career.
It was perfect preparation for this week's Masters 1000 event in Paris, the final tournament before the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals in London, starting on 22 November.
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