sport

Murray beaten by Hewitt

Andy Murray lost to Lleyton Hewitt in his final warm-up match for the Australian Open.

The contest at Kooyong, the former home of the Australian Open, was only an exhibition but it was very competitive and played in hot and sweaty conditions, and should prove invaluable in terms of miles in the tank for Murray.

Hewitt began his season by beating Roger Federer to win the ATP Tour event in Brisbane and he looked extremely sharp in a 7-6 (7/1) 7-6 (7/4) victory.

The main positive for Murray was how well he served, particularly in the first set when he powered down a succession of aces.

But he was a lot more wayward off the ground than Hewitt and that showed in the tie-break, which the Australian won easily.

Murray made a poor start to the second set but recovered with a run of four games out of five to leave him serving to level the match.

He had two chances to seal it but could not take either and Hewitt broke back.

Murray held to force a second tie-break and made the better start to it but he could not establish a meaningful advantage and Hewitt clinched victory with a return winner.

Murray has played only five matches since back surgery in September, with three of those exhibition clashes.

He beat Stanislas Wawrinka in Abu Dhabi having lost to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and, after thrashing a local wild card, was defeated by Florian Mayer in the second round in Doha last week.

Murray faded badly in that match, which was not the case against Hewitt, and the good news for the Scot from Friday's draw was that he has been given a kind opening two rounds.

First up is Japan's Go Soeda, who is ranked 112th, and should he get through that he is guaranteed to play a qualifier.

Things get more tricky from there, with Roger Federer in his quarter and Rafael Nadal a potential semi-final opponent.