Qatar: Top-ranked Andy Murray extended his winning streak to a career-best 25 matches by defeating Jeremy Chardy of France 6-0, 7-6 (2) in his first match of the year at the Qatar Open on Tuesday.
Murray clinched the year-end No. 1 ranking in his last match of 2016, winning a career-best ninth title by holding off long-time No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the ATP Finals championship match.
Murray, who won back-to-back Doha titles in 2008 and 2009, was greeted enthusiastically by the crowd when he took to the court.
One fan held up a handwritten sign, “Welcome to Doha Sir Andy,” referencing his recently being knighted by Britain’s Queen Elizabeth.
Murray won the opening set by posting only one unforced error and seven winners. In all, Murray had nine unforced errors and 18 winners.
The 69th-ranked Chardy settled into the second set, even managing to break Murray’s serve in the first game.
But from 2-2 in the second set tiebreaker, Murray reeled off five straight points to finish off the match.
Murray, who has beaten Chardy in nine of the 10 matches they have played, will face Gerald Melzer of Austria in the next round.
Fifth seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France, playing in Doha for the first time since he won the title in 2012, ousted Andrey Kuznetsov of Russia 6-1, 4-6, 6-2.
The win booked Tsonga a second-round outing against Dustin Brown of Germany.