Dubai - Scot Andy Murray hobbled to a patchy opening win at the Dubai Championships on Tuesday, with the third seed struggling past German Michael Berrer 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 for a spot in the second round.
Murray, competing for the first time in a month since losing a marathon Australian Open semi-final to Novak Djokovic was up a set and a break against the 116th-ranked left-hander Berrer.
But the big German, playing in the hottest part of a desert day, still had the fitness edge over Murray, with the Scot complaining later of feeling ill and grabbing occasionally at his knee.
The third seed traded a pair of breaks with Berrer in the final set before finally earning the decisive edge with a third break for 5-4.
Murray held on to start his fourth Dubai appearance with victory in just over two hours, and now stands 6-3 in the emirate with quarter-finals in 2008 and 2009.
"It was very up and down," said the winner. "I was twice up a break in the third but he fought back. I was feeling a bit sick for a while in the sun.
"He's a tough opponent and makes you take a lot of risk. I'm just glad to go through."
Russian Mikhail Youzhny went through to the second round in only 36 minutes when Frenchman Richard Gasquet quit with influenza. Sergiy Stakhovsky of the Ukraine hammered Omar Awadhy of the 6-1, 6-2 in a similar time-span.
Results on Tuesday from the Dubai Tennis Championships, an ATP event on outdoor hard courts at the Aviation Club (seedings in parentheses):
Sergiy Stakhovsky, Ukraine, def. Omar Awadhy, United Arab Emirates, 6-1, 6-2.
Mikhail Youzhny, Russia, def. Richard Gasquet, France, 6-3, retired.
Andy Murray (3), Britain, def. Michael Berrer, Germany, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4.
Marco Chiudinelli, Switzerland, def. Nikolay Davydenko, Russia, 6-4, 5-7, 6-4.
Flavio Cipolla, Italy, def. Ivan Ljubicic, Croatia, 6-2, 7-5.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (4), France, def. Marcos Baghdatis, Cyprus, 7-6 (7/2), 6-4.
Janko Tipsarevic (7), Serbia, def. Igor Kunitsyn, Russia, 6-2, 6-2.