Andy Murray claimed the fourth title of his career with an absorbing 6-4 4-6 6-2 win over Switzerland's Stanislas Wawrinka in the Qatar Open final.
Murray is likely to break into the world's top 10 after victory in Qatar
Both players produced a nervy start but three breaks of serve compared to Wawrinka's two were enough to give the Scot the opening set.
The match settled down in the second and Wawrinka levelled the contest after breaking Murray in the 10th game.
Murray wasted little time in the decider and two breaks sealed victory.
"It's good to win another title and it's been great preparation for the Australian Open," said Murray, who had been seeded third in the tournament.
"But Stan played pretty good and made me do a lot of running. I don't know how much longer I could have run for.
"I did a lot of running and I am going to be stiff tomorrow, but I am really happy that I came through."
The win will further convince Murray that his decision to employ a team of coaches after dispensing with highly regarded coach Brad Gilbert last November was the right one.
The Qatar Open was the first tournament since the split and his off-season work in Miami with fitness experts Jez Green, Matt Little and Miles Maclagan has paid immediate dividends.
Murray, looking to go one better than his runner-up finish in this event last year, defeated Nikolay Davydenko and Thomas Johansson on the way to Saturday's final against the Swiss world number 36.
Both players struggled to impose their service games in a topsy-turvy first set with Wawrinka slipping up in the opening game.
Murray was broken in the next but broke again following a lengthy third before recording the first hold to go 3-1 ahead.
Wawrinka levelled the first set at 3-3 after battling back from 0-40 down with the help of some fine passing shots and a controversial overrule by the umpire.
Murray improved a lot last year, and I think he's going to be much better
Murray, however, kept his cool and broke straight back with an athletic cross-court volley and then served out to take the set.
At the start of the second, Murray rattled off three love service games in a row to put pressure on his opponent, although Wawrinka showed superb resilience to keep in touch.
But as the set reached its climax, Murray seemed to tire and had to battle back from 15-30 down on his own serve to make the score 4-4.
Murray found himself in the same predicament when serving to stay in the set but after making a host of errors, there was no repeat and Wawrinka was able to force a decider.
The Briton came out of the blocks quickly in the third set, claiming a break in the opening game.
Warwinka saved four break points in the third game but Murray was in total control and a break to love for a 5-2 lead helped seal a morale-boosting victory ahead of the Australian Open, which starts on 14 January.
"Murray improved a lot last year, and I think he's going to be much better," said Wawrinka. "It's very difficult to play against him, to come to the net or to stay back."