- Lleyton Hewitt returns after four-month injury layofff
- Hewitt extends Fernando Verdasco to three sets at Hopman Cup
- Former World No.1 has been battling foot problem
- Spain beat Australia 2-1 in team event opener
Former World No.1 Lleyton Hewitt put up a battling display before losing in three sets to Spain's Fernando Verdasco at the Hopman Cup in Perth Sunday,
Home hope Hewitt has not played in four months due to a major foot problem, but came close to beating the high-rated Verdasco before he prevailed 6-3 3-6 7-5 in just over two hours.
Two-time grand slam winner Hewitt is in the autumn of his glittering career but the 30-year-old has ruled out retirement despite slipping to 186 in the rankings.
"I feel pretty good at the moment," Hewitt told gathered reporters after he and Jarmila Gajdosova had lost the deciding mixed doubles to Verdasco and Anabel Medina Garrigues.
Gajdosova beat Medina Garrigues 6-3 3-6 6-3 in the opening match before Verdasco leveled the tie.
The Spaniards then survived a match point to win a thrilling deciding mixed doubles in a tiebreak 3-6 6-3 11-9.
Despite a pair of close defeats, it was an encouraging return for Hewitt, who has not played since losing in a Davis Cup tie for Australia in September.
"Lleyton is a very tough player," Verdasco told the official tournament website. "He always fights until the end. He played really well, I was playing well. I think and I hope he will have a good 2012,"
The mixed team event has attracted a strong field, with women's No.2 Petra Kvitova joining Tomas Berdych in a strong Czech team, while French Open champion Li Na is playing for China.
She paired with Wu Di to go down to a 2-1 defeat Saturday to France, who are represented by Richard Gasquet and Marion Bartoli.