(CNN) -- When Andy Murray first won the Miami Masters in 2009, it set him on course for a career-high ranking of No. 2 in the world later that year.
He kept that lofty status for less than a month, but Sunday's painstaking victory in the final against David Ferrer has taken him back there and earned the 25-year-old a second title at Key Biscayne.
The British tennis star, who owns a home nearby, came back to practice for three weeks after his Australian Open final defeat in January.
He had to save a match point in the final set before he finally triumphed 2-6 6-4 7-6 (7-1) against fifth-ranked Ferrer.
"It was a brutal match and at the end both of us were very, very tired. I just managed to get over the line. Physically it was an exhausting match," last year's losing finalist told CNN. "I'm used to the conditions here and that helped."
He earlier said on court after the match: "That sort of match a couple of years ago I probably would have lost. I was up a break three or four times in the third set and kept letting him back in through some loose shots.
"I tried to keep fighting, chased down every ball, made it as hard for him as possible. There was a lot riding on the match and I was glad to get through in the end."
The victory lifted Murray above 17-time grand slam champion Roger Federer, who did not play in Miami after experiencing back problems during his quarterfinal defeat against Rafael Nadal at Indian Wells.
It is the first time since November 2003 that neither Federer or Nadal have been in the top two.
"The No. 1 goal for me is to win the major events and then the ranking takes care of itself," Murray told CNN.
"Getting to No. 2 is a good achievement. I hope I can go higher but it's incredibly hard right now, with the guys around at the top of the game. I'll give it my best shot."
Ferrer, who had been seeking to become the first Spaniard to win the Miami title, was denied his second Masters-level crown after a demoralizing defeat that means he has yet to beat a top-five player in any of his 37 career finals.
"There will be another situation like today, but my life doesn't change for one match. I need to work hard and to be focused for the next tournaments," said Ferrer, who turns 31 on Tuesday.
However, he did regret his decision to use a challenge on one of Murray's shots during his match point -- it was ruled in.
"The ball, it was really close. I saw it out... I made my decision in that moment. It's a bad moment now. I don't want to think anymore about that. I want to forget as fast as possible."
Ferrer could have moved above fourth-ranked Nadal if he had won, with his compatriot having sat out the tournament to rest his knee following his title at Indian Wells.
The men's schedule will switch focus to the Davis Cup quarterfinals this week before the beginning of the European clay-court season, where Murray will be seeking to retain his status for the French Open.
"If I'd served better I could have made it easier and that's something I need to do better in the clay court season," he said.
"This week I did a lot of things well but I need to serve better. If I serve better I'll be able to win matches like today more comfortably. It's easier to return on clay so it's even more important to serve well."