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Murray wins his first title of the year in Dubai

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Andy Murray captured his first title of the year and became the first British man to win the Dubai Tennis Championships in its 25-year history when he defeated Fernando Verdasco 6-3, 6-2 on Saturday.

This was Murray’s seventh final in his last eight tournaments, and 14th in his last 16 dating to last May in Madrid.

The only two tournaments he failed to make the final in that period were the 2016 U.S. Open and 2017 Australian Open.

“It’s been a great run. Can’t complain about much,” Murray said.

“Giving yourself a lot of matches gives you confidence to go into those big events (Grand Slams).”

Dubai was the first tournament Murray’s played since he lost in the Australian Open fourth round. Since that defeat he’s been recuperating from a bout with shingles.

“After the break that I have had, to get five matches in, six if you include the doubles, in six days is a really positive thing physically,” he said.

The top-ranked Murray, who was a Dubai finalist in 2012, improved his career record to 13-1 over Verdasco.

The first three games were service breaks as the players attempted to find their range in the final.

Verdasco had the service break until the Spaniard was broken by Murray in the sixth and then the eighth games to take the first set.

Murray broke Verdasco’s serve twice in the second set, in the third game with a forehand winner, and in the seventh on a third break point.

The 35th-ranked Verdasco, a former top-10 player, has never beaten a No. 1-ranked player in 12 career attempts.

“He pushes you,” Verdasco said. “At the same time, I didn’t really feel, of course, as comfortable or hitting the ball as clean as days before.”

Murray became the fourth player this year to win a title having saved match points en route to the title. He faced a career high seven match points in defeating Philipp Kohlschreiber in the quarterfinals.

Top-seeded John Isner wins 3rd Hall of Fame title

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NEWPORT, R.I. — Top-seeded John Isner beat Australian qualifier Matthew Ebden 6-3, 7-6 (4) on Sunday for his third Hall of Fame Open title.

The hard-serving American also won the grass-court event in 2011 and 2012. He has 11th career titles, all at the ATP World Tour 250 level.

“It’s hard to win a tournament,” Isner said. “It’s no small feat to come out here and be the last man standing. I’m very happy about that. It’s been two years since I won a tournament, so I had that weighing on my mind.”

Isner became the second player to win an ATP title without facing a break point since records began in 1991. Tommy Haas also accomplished the feat in Memphis, Tennessee, in 2007.

“I’m very happy with how I played all week,” Isner said. “It was a perfect week and I couldn’t ask for anything better.”

Ebden was playing his first tour-level final.

“It’s a lot of reward for a lot of hard work, a lot of years of sacrifice,” Ebden said. “It’s disappointing, but at the same time I have to be happy with my week.”

Roddick, Clijsters among Tennis Hall of Fame inductees

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NEWPORT, R.I. — Andy Roddick says jokingly he can now keep Roger Federer from a unanimous selection for the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

As a new inductee, Roddick gets to vote on future candidates. He jested ahead of his enshrinement on Saturday that he’ll use it to get back at Federer, who stood in his way during at least four Grand Slam finals.

Roddick joins inductees Kim Clijsters, six-time Paralympic medalist Monique Kalkman and journalist and historian Steve Flink. Tennis instructor and innovator Vic Braden was to be inducted posthumously.

Roddick won one Grand Slam and lost to Federer in the finals four times. He says he doesn’t ask himself what would have happened if he hadn’t come along at the same time of perhaps the greatest player.

He says the first text he got when he woke up Saturday was from Federer. Says Roddick: “He makes it extremely hard not to like him as a person.”