Somdev Devvarman fought his heart out but eventually ran out of steam against former world number one Lleyton Hewitt who overcame the gritty Indian 1-6, 6-0, 7-6 (2) the second round of the US Men's Clay Courts Championships in Houston.
The wild card Australian, returning to the court after recuperating from hip and knee surgeries, was pushed to the limits by the lucky loser Indian.
"It's unrealistic to go out there and expect to hit a lot of winners against a guy like Devvarman who's able to get a lot of balls back," Hewitt said after the match.
"I was going for a little too much. He doesn't hit a lot of winners, but he doesn't make a lot of errors, either. I was sort of beating myself out there," he added.
After being blown away by Somdev in the opening set, Hewitt made an impressive comeback in the second set as he lost just two points.
However, two-time NCAA singles champion Somdev fought back in the decisive set. The Indian was serving for the match at 6-5 but ended up conceding a break of serve that gave Hewitt the opportunity to make a comeback.
Hewitt fought off elimination with another service break before clinching the win in the tie-break.
The 27-year-old Hewitt had been sidelined since the Australian Open after undergoing surgery on his right hip, and made his return to the courts Tuesday with a first-round doubles victory.
"In hindsight it's probably a good thing," Hewitt said about playing a tough first match back from injury.
"Obviously when you're going through it you prefer to be off a bit quicker, but obviously it was going to be a little bit of a stretcher at the start.