Novak Djokovic withs-tood a comeback from Sir Andy Murray to defend his Qatar Open title and end the Briton’s winning streak of 28 consecutive ATP Tour matches.
Murray remains world number one despite the 6-3 5-7 6-4 defeat by the Serbian world number two.
The Scot saved three match points to come from a set and a break down to win the second set and level the match.
But Djokovic broke in game seven of the decider to win in two hours 54 minutes.
Both players now head to Melbourne for the Australian Open, the year’s first Grand Slam, which starts on 16 January.
“Its a tough one to lose,” said Murray, 29. “It was high level tennis, some of the points were physically tough. But it’s a great way to start the new year and I look forward to the next few weeks.”
This was the 36th meeting between the pair and Murray had won the last time they met at the ATP Tour Finals in November, a victory that kept him at world number one.