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Australian Open: Andy Murray Loses Final Warm-Up Match

10/01/2014 11:36 GMT | Updated 23/01/2014 15:53 GMT

On the eve of the first Grand Slam, there have been mixed fortunes for Britain's leading tennis players.

Andy Murray, who has been recovering from injury, lost to his final warm-up match before the Australian Open to Lleyton Hewitt while Heather Watson made easy work of her first qualifiying match against Stephanie Foretz Gacon.

andy murray hewitt

Andy Murray took Hewitt to tie-breaks in both sets of their exhibition match

British number three was leading 6-0 2-0 when the Frenchwoman pulled out because of a shoulder problem after only 36 minutes on court..

Murray's contest with Hewitt 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.

The Scot 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.

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Heather Watson pictured at last year's Australian Open

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.

Watson has found herself back in grand slam qualifying for the first time since the French Open in 2012 following her struggles with glandular fever last year.

Watson has a lot of ranking points to defend having reached the third round last year but is now only one victory away from a place in the main draw.

In her final qualifier she will meet American Irina Falconi, who was an emphatic 6-2 6-0 winner over Chanel Simmonds in round two.

Watson was delighted with her performance, saying: "I was still very nervous but I controlled it a lot better.

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"I knew it was going to be difficult so I focused more on me and what I wanted to do on the court, and ended up playing really, really well. I was very happy with my serve, my returns, groundstrokes, just everything.

"That's how I want to play. I came in with a different approach. It was nice to get through the first match but now I'm feeling better I want to hit the shots that I've been practising."