Murray labours to opening win in Dubai
The 24-year-old has used that time to undergo intense training in Miami with new coach Ivan Lendl, and at times he looked bereft of energy in beating a qualifier seven years his senior.
The British number one - seeded third in Dubai - had not dropped a set to Berrer in their previous two meetings, and it looked as though he would continue that run when he took the first 6-3 after both men were broken in their opening service games.
Berrer was intent on attacking Murray aggressively at the net whenever he had the chance. Whilst that often played into Murray's hands and saw him beaten with several passing shots, at times that tactic saw the intensity raised to a level which the third seed struggled to handle.
There was another tit-for-tat exchange of breaks in the middle of the second set before Murray had to rescue two break points in the eighth game. However, on his next service game he was unable to repeat that feat, forcing a deciding set.
The third began with Berrer breaking back not once but twice before the German finally registered the first hold of serve in six games.
Both men sporadically played some of the best tennis of the match as the court started to open up for them, but it was Murray who came to the fore at the right time, breaking Berrer once more in the ninth game.
After claiming his sixth break of the match, Murray held to 15 to scrape his way through to the second round.
"At the start of the match I didn't feel great," Murray said on the ATP website.
"It was one of those strange sets. It was quite a frustrating match because I was up a break twice in the second set, and each time I think gave it straight back.
"I could have made it a little bit easier for myself if I played a bit better."
Other results in Dubai saw fourth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga beat Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis 7-6(2) 6-4, while Tsonga’s fellow Frenchman Richard Gasquet retired injured during his first-round match with Mikhail Youzhny of Russia.
Sixth-seeded Serb Janko Tipsarevic eased aside Russia’s Igor Kunitsyn 6-2 6-2, Italian Flavio Cipolla beat Croatia’s Ivan Ljubicic 6-2 7-5, and Ukrainian Sergiy Stakhovsky beat local player Omar Awadhy 6-1 6-2.