Murray beat Stanislas Wawrinka in last year's final
Britain's Andy Murray started the defence of his Qatar Open title with a comfortable 6-2 6-4 win over Spain's Albert Montanes.
World number four Murray broke Montanes twice in the first set to take a 5-1 lead and clinched it on his fifth set point after saving four break points.
Murray went 4-0 up in the second and although Montanes rallied to make it 4-3 the Scot closed out the match.
Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer easily won their first-round matches.
Spaniard Nadal, the top seed, cruised past Fabrice Santoro of France, winning 6-0, 6-1.
"I didn't expect this to be so easy," said the world number one. "I hope to do well in 2009, just as I did in 2008. I don't think there is any need of extra preparation, but the only thing is that you need to practise hard."
It was good result in the end - I was a bit nervous initially and lost my concentration towards the end of the second set but I'm happy to win in two
Second seed Federer defeated Italy's Potito Starace 6-2, 6-3 and said: "It was a good victory, a good warm-up, good practice.
"It was good to start off with a win, but the conditions were tough, quite windy. Under such circumstances my focus was on not getting injured, especially at the beginning of the year."
Murray, seeded third for the tournament, will play Germany's Philipp Petzschner in the second round.
The Scot played several excellent drop shots as he raced into a 5-1 first set lead but wasted three set points to win the opener on Montanes' serve.
He then made hard work of his own serve, saving four break points despite having led the game 40-15, before finishing it on his fifth set point.
The match looked over as a contest when Murray swept the opening four games of the second set.
However, Montanes responded by winning two service games to love either side of breaking the Murray serve.
But Murray did enough and took advantage of his first match point to clinch the win.
"It was good result in the end," he said. "I was a bit nervous initially and lost my concentration towards the end of the second set but I'm happy to win in two."