Andy Murray marked his return to action after his defeat in the final of the Australian Open by easing past Russia's Igor Kunitsyn in Dubai.
The world number four reached the second round of the Dubai Tennis Championships with a 6-2 6-3 victory.
A mammoth 34-point second game lasted nearly 30 minutes before Murray finally took it on his ninth break point.
After that he slowly wore down his Russian opponent, ranked 111th in the world, to secure a solid victory.
Murray appeared to have one or two physical issues in his first match since losing to Roger Federer in Melbourne three weeks ago.
The British number one said: "My ankle was sore at the start of the match and I was really out of breath early on. I have not practised that much, or trained that much and there were a lot of long rallies.
"You don't think that at 1-0 it could make a huge difference to the match, but I think it did. I've never played a game like that before."
Earlier on Monday second seed Novak Djokovic, who is now the highest seed after the withdrawal of Roger Federer through illness, dispatched Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 6-4 6-4.
Murray, who took in a number of Premier League football matches as he enjoyed time away from the court after his Australian Open defeat by Federer, had to fight off a break point in the opening game of the match.
Both players were happy to rally at length, with neither prepared to take the early initiative as they waited for the other to make a mistake.
Murray was rarely at his best but still had too much for his Russian opponent
Murray is a master of out-lasting his opponents but Kunitsyn was happy to bide his time and it led to a mammoth second game in Dubai.
A series of interminable rallies followed one after the other before the Scot, who briefly appeared in discomfort after overstretching on his fifth break point, finally broke at the ninth time of asking, prompting a wry smile and ironic celebration.
With a break in the bag, Murray, who served increasingly impressively, was content to sit back and ease his way through the set until the eighth game, when he suddenly upped the tempo and broke to close it out 6-2.
Kunitsyn had looked powerless against the Murray serve in the latter stages of the first set but the Scot lost his rhythm in the first game of the second and his Russian opponent seized his chance to break.
The Scot hit back immediately, claiming the break with a superb forehand down the line after manoeuvring his opponent all round the court.
But his game had dropped away from the heights he hit at the end of the first set and he was forced to fight off a break point, with an ace, on his way to a 3-2 lead.
The Scot was only showing flashes of the ability that has seen him ranked as high as second in the world, but a sublime backhand drop shot helped him secure three break points in game six and he duly broke at the third time of asking to take a decisive lead.
After that the result was inevitable as Murray, with his serve firing once again, set up a second round clash with either Andreas Seppi or Janko Tipsarevic.
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