Brisbane, Australia – Aging Aussie hero Lleyton Hewitt was a three-set first-round winner Tuesday at the season-opening Brisbane International tennis event, an Australian Open tune-up.
The wild card Hewitt was originally scheduled to meet Radek Stepanek on Day 2, but the Czech veteran pulled out of the draw, leaving Hewitt to take on lucky- loser Igor Kunitsyn. The former world No. 1 and two-time Grand Slam champion Hewitt held off his Russian counterpart 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 on the hardcourts at Queensland Tennis Centre.
Stepanek, suffering with an eye infection, was the 2009 Brisbane titlist and 2010 runner-up.
A pair of seeds saw action, as No. 7 Jurgen Melzer of Austria overcame American qualifier Denis Kudla 2-6, 6-4, 6-4, while Uzbekistan's Denis Istomin easily upended No. 8 Martin Klizan of the Slovak Republic 6-1, 6-2.
Three other Americans exited the draw in Brisbane, as former top-10 Spaniard Tommy Robredo dismissed qualifier Ryan Harrison 6-4, 7-6 (7-4), Colombian Alejandro Falla handled qualifier Jesse Levine 6-1, 7-6 (10-8), and talented Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov erased Brian Baker 6-3, 7-6 (10-8).
Also, Aussie qualifier John Millman drilled Japanese Tatsuma Ito 6-4, 6-1 and rising Belgian David Goffin whipped Aussie wild card Matthew Ebden 6-2, 6-2. Millman is rewarded with a Thursday match against top-seeded U.S. Open, Olympic and reigning Brisbane champion Andy Murray, who beat Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov in last year's finale here.