Lleyton Hewitt began his final Australian Open campaign with a comfortable victory over compatriot James Duckworth on Tuesday 19 January. The 2005 finalist, who is set to bring the curtain down on an eventful career after the year's first grand slam in Melbourne, took the first set on a tie-break before cruising through the second 6-2 in front of an adoring crowd at Rod Laver Arena.
The match looked likely to be heading to a fourth set when Duckworth secured a break to put him 2-1 ahead in the third, but he crucially let that advantage slip. After producing an ace to save one break point, the 23-year-old then inexplicably double-faulted and Hewitt went on to secure the win by claiming the second of three match points with a forehand winner. He will face David Ferrer in round two after the Spaniard defeated Peter Gojowczyk 6-4, 6-4, 6-2.
After the match, Hewitt said: "I wouldn't say [victory was]'comfortable.' Obviously that third set I had to dig deep and make a lot of balls to try to get back into it. He raised his game. I was kind of waiting for him to just dip off a little bit there in the third set. Eventually it happened.
"You know, I felt I really stepped it up the last couple of games on my return of serve. Made him play a lot of balls. Put pressure on him as well. You know, that was probably slightly telling in the end."
Elsewhere on a busy day two, Stan Wawrinka was handed straightforward passage after Dmitry Tursunov retired due to injury. The 2015 French Open champion was leading 7-6, 6-3 before his opponent withdrew with an apparent hip problem that had earlier seen him call for a trainer midway through the second set. Radek Stepanek awaits Wawrinka next.
In the women's draw, second seed Simona Halep became the highest-ranked player to fall in the first round as she was surprisingly beaten by Chinese qualifier Zhang Shuai. The world number 133, who was making her 15th attempt at winning her first grand slam match, set up a second-round clash against Alize Cornet with a memorable 6-4, 6-3 triumph in one hour and 18 minutes at Margaret Court Arena.