MUNICH, Germany - Andy Murray won the first clay-court title of his career when he saw off Germany's Philipp Kohlschreiber in a tough three-setter during Monday's rain-delayed final of Munich's ATP tournament.
The world number three and top seed in Munich needed just over three hours to seal a 7-6 (7/4), 5-7, 7-6 (7/4) win over Kohlschrieber, ranked 24th in the world, who fought hard in front of his home crowd in the Bavarian capital.
It was the 32nd title of Murray's career but his first on clay as he prepares for the French Open at the end of the month.
He is the first British player to win an ATP clay-court tournament since Englishman Christopher "Buster" Mottram in April 1976.
"It was a really tough match, he served very close to the line and I was getting frustrated," said Murray, who was playing in his first tournament since getting married last month.
"The rain made things really tough, but as a Scot I'm used to that.
"It's been a hard couple of days, so I am very happy to have won, especially on clay.
"I didn't realise I was the first Brit to win on clay for so long, so that's obviously an honour." It was a gruelling tussle and reminiscent of their epic five-setter in the third round at Roland Garros last year when Murray claimed victory after winning 12-10 in the fifth.
Heavy rain meant only 23 minutes of the final could be played on Sunday before the match was moved and Murray was in commanding form when the first set went to a tie-breaker.
The Scot came under repeated pressure in the second set when he had to defend two break points in the third game.
He was finally broken by Kohlschreiber in the fifth game, but immediately returned the compliment to take a 4-3 lead.
Murray let the German off the hook as Kohlschreiber successfully defended three break points in the eighth game to level as the match followed service and was finely poised at 5-5.
Kohlschreiber dug deep with several passing shots to break Murray and take a 6-5 lead, then held his service in a titanic 12th game to win the second set.
There was no quarter asked nor given in the third.
Murray had to defend a break point in the first game, but the set then followed service as both show-cased their fitness to take the match to a tie-breaker.
Murray needed two of his three match-points to take the title.
The Scot had little time to celebrate with a bye into the second round at this week's Madrid Masters - where he is set to face Kohlscreiber.
"It obviously really hurts when you have given your all, but I am really grateful for the support I got here," said Kohlschreiber.
"It's too soon to think about the next tournament, but it showed we are at the same level and both of us went to our limits."