Battle-hardened Lleyton Hewitt has continued on his winning way, beating Andy Murray in their exhibition match at Melbourne’s Kooyong.
Fresh from taking out the Brisbane International over Roger Federer, Hewitt gave an underdone Murray a proper work-out with a 7-6 (7-1) 7-6 (7-4) victory.
The Scotsman, who was runner-up to Novak Djokovic in the Australian Open last year, has only played one tournament since undergoing back surgery in September.
He was a second round loser in Doha so the meeting with warrior Hewitt was ideal ahead of his opening Melbourne Park clash with Japanese 112th-ranked veteran Go Soeda.
Hewitt has been drawn to meet Italian 24th seed Andreas Seppi in his first round which will be his 18th successive Australian Open.
Their Kooyong match came at the end of the day’s play in the AAMI Classic, where the 32-year-old was due to defend his title before withdrawing, citing fatigue after Brisbane.
Despite it being an exhibition match, it drew the biggest crowd of the week.
The pair traded early breaks in the first set before the match headed into a tiebreak.
Hewitt took advantage of some Murray cobwebs – with his unforced error tally reaching 20 – to cruise through the tiebreak only conceding one point.
Wimbledon champion Murray had set point in the second but Hewitt rallied to break him and level at 5-5.
Hewitt had three match points in the tiebreak and missed one but made no mistake on his next opportunity.
The former world No.1, now ranked back in the top 50 for the first time since 2010 at 43, said it was the best he had felt in years after successful toe surgery.
“I love this time of year and I trained extremely hard in November, December to get ready for this time of the year,” Hewitt said.
“It paid off last week in Brisbane and this week’s been about recovering as much as possible.
“It was a great hit-out with Andy so it was nice to come out here and play some clean tennis.”