Lleyton Hewitt began his 2013 campaign in fighting style with a three-set victory in the first round of the Brisbane International.
Hewitt defeated Russian lucky loser Igor Kunitsyn 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 on Pat Rafter Arena, having finished strongly in the third set to dominate the serve of his younger opponent.
Kunitsyn only got his chance in the main draw following the withdrawal of former champion Radek Stepanek because of an eye infection earlier on Tuesday.
"When you've been preparing for three or four days to play someone, then it changes," he told Channel Seven.
"It's always tough and especially when you're playing someone who's already had two or three matches in these conditions as well.
"He's a good ball striker and had nothing to lose so I felt like it was a pretty high-standard match out there tonight."
Hewitt will next face Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan and should the former world number one win he will be on course for a quarter-final clash with top seed Andy Murray.
Istomin progressed to the round of 16 with a 6-1, 6-2 victory over Slovakian Martin Klizan.
Meanwhile, Serena Williams continued her strong build-up to the Australian Open with another straight-sets victory.
Williams breezed through her second-round match against Frenchwoman Alize Cornet, triumphing 6-2, 6-2.
She won her opening-round encounter against fellow American Varvara Lepchenko 6-2, 6-1 on Sunday.
"She's (Cornet) a former top 15 player and we've had a tough three-set match before so I knew I had to play really well," Williams said.
"I tried to be more aggressive and tried to be more consistent."
Williams, the current Wimbledon and US Open champion, is on course to meet top seed Victoria Azarenka in the semi-finals.
Azarenka enjoyed a bye in the opening round and will make her first appearance of the tournament against German Sabine Lisicki.
Williams' victory would have given the Brisbane organisers a sigh of relief, with four-time major winner Maria Sharapova withdrawing from the tournament earlier on Tuesday because of a collarbone injury.
Sharapova's scratching followed the early departure of seeds Petra Kvitova and Caroline Wozniacki, in addition to local favourite and seventh seed Samantha Stosur exiting the tournament on Monday night.
ABC/AFPTags: tennis, sport, brisbane-4000 First posted January 01, 2013 21:32:15