Update 11:55 pm. Top seed Andy Murray has survived a huge scare in an enthralling first-round clash, dropping the first set before overcoming an inspired showing from Mikhail Kukushkin 5-7 6-3 6-2.
On paper, the world number four was expected to cruise past his opponent but the 91st-placed Kukushkin proved that matches should never be decided on paper.
A packed Pat Rafter Arena was treated to an unexpected spectacle in which the unheralded Kazakh produced some stunning clean hitting that belied his ranking.
To further add to the drama, Murray appeared to be carrying a number of worrying knee and hip injuries that restricted his movement around the court.
However, he played down any concerns after the match.
“My body’s been quite sore and it takes time getting used to playing competitive tennis again.
“I’ve had a few little niggles the last couple of weeks that will be gone by the Australian Open – just need to play through them just now and hopefully feel better.
“It’s just from the work you do in the off-season, you put your body through quite a pounding
“I’ve normally turned up at the first tournament of the year a little bit sore, especially the last few years, so nothing to worry about.”
A sluggish Murray was stunned by Kazakhstan’s number one male player, who came out all guns blazing, breaking the Scot twice in his first two service games with some sensational ball striking off both wings.
“He started very quickly and I was maybe half a step slow, I was not getting to the balls like I would have liked to,” Murray said.
The Brit then mounted a comeback of sorts to level the set at five-a-piece. It appeared the momentum had shifted but to Kukushkin’s credit, he maintained his aggressive strokeplay and broke the Scot to take a 6-5 lead.
In his first appearance in the tournament’s main draw, he then served out the set and finished with a fist pump to the appreciative crowd.
Some fantastic all-court tennis was the feature of the second as Murray upped his game – a running passing forehand allowed him to break and go up 3-1.
Two aces helped him serve out the set 6-3, with a remarkable between the legs shots a feature in the final game.
Errors crept into Kukushkin’s game in the third, as he conceded two breaks of serve.
In fortuitous fashion, Murray sealed a second-round showdown with Gilles Muller courtesy of a forehand volley that trickled over the top of the tape.
However, Kukushkin’s aggressive performance no doubt won him plenty of Brisbane fans – he may prove a player to watch in 2012.
Some tickets still remain for the day and night sessions at Pat Rafter Arena. Tickets can be purchased online from Ticketek.