British number one Andy Murray won his first match at the Kooyong Classic event in Melbourne, beating world number four Ivan Ljubicic 6-4 6-2.
Murray has started the season in fine form
The result was revenge for the Scot, who was beaten by the Croat in the final of the Qatar Open last week.
World number one Roger Federer struggled past Radek Stepanek 7-6 6-7 7-6 while America's Andy Roddick defeated Germany's Tommy Haas 6-2 6-3.
The eight-man field each play three matches before a final on Saturday.
Russia's Marat Safin beat David Nalbandian 5-7 6-1 6-2 before the Argentine withdrew from the event because of a knee injury.
His place in the Kooyong draw has been taken by Chile's Fernando Gonzalez, the world number 10.
Murray believes he is hitting top form at exactly the right time ahead of next week's Australian Open.
Jimmy (Connors) will be watching the matches and we'll be talking
"After a few more days practice and some matches in this heat, I'm going to be playing well going into the Australian Open," said the 19-year-old.
"The intensity at Kooyong is a little bit different than a normal practice session. You've obviously got people there so I feel like you have to perform."
Murray also confirmed he would not be competing in the doubles at the Australian Open, preferring to preserve energy for his singles matches.
Murray explained: "No doubles at Grand Slams. I might play the occasional Masters Series.
"It's something that I enjoy doing, but singles is a priority so come the Grand Slams, I don't want to be having a five-set singles match and then a three-set doubles match."
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World number one Federer was playing his first match of the season against the Czech number 20 in Melbourne, a warm-up for next week's Australian Open.
And after his taxing encounter, Federer renewed calls to stage the Australian Open later in the year in light of a spate of injuries.
"It would be nice if the Australian Open was a bit later, because we would have a bit more time in the off-season," said the Swiss.
Roddick is without coach Jimmy Connors in Melbourne
World number two Rafael Nadal pulled out of the Sydney International on Tuesday with a thigh strain.
He was joined on the withdrawal list by Thailand's Paradorn Srichaphan and Russian women Svetlana Kuznetsova and Nadia Petrova.
Local hope Lleyton Hewitt and Nalbandian are also nursing niggling strains.
"If it was in March, people could take a rest all January and February as well," added Federer, who is aiming for his 10th Grand Slam at Melbourne Park.
"But I don't think that's ever going to change. You are going to have to clean up the entire schedule to make everybody happy."
Roddick remained focused on an assault at the Australian Open even though he will probably have to make do without his coach Jimmy Connors.
The death of Connors' mother, Gloria, means that the American legend is unlikely to make the trip to Melbourne.
"Regardless of what happens, he'll be watching the matches and we'll be talking," said the 24-year-old Roddick.
"Obviously, I'd love to have him here, but right now I'm not sure if that's on option. But his influence isn't gone, he's still very much involved."
Roddick teamed up with Connors last July and the move immediately paid dividends as he won his first title in 2006 just weeks later at the Cincinnati Masters.