Sydney: Roger Federer recovered from a sluggish start to beat Lleyton Hewitt 5-7, 7-6 (5), 6-2, 6-3 on Friday, moving Switzerland level with Australia at 1-1 after the opening day of their Davis Cup World Group playoff.
Federer, who only arrived in Australia on Wednesday after a grueling US Open semifinal loss, began slowly on the grass court at Royal Sydney Golf Club before taking the the second-set tiebreaker and then breaking Hewitt in the first game of the third.
The 16-time Grand Slam winner acknowledged feeling tired and off his game on what he described as an "old school" grass court.
"I all of a sudden realized this was much more difficult than I expected," Federer said. "I thought it was going to be tough, but once on court I was a bit afraid of hitting my shots because of all the bad bounces out on this grass court, and I was just very happy to see that I got so much better as the match went on."
Federer now holds an 18-8 record over Hewitt, the former No. 1 who had won their previous match in the final at Halle, Germany last year.
Bernard Tomic earlier beat Stanislas Wawrinka 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 to give Australia a 1-0 lead.
Hewitt claimed the opening set against Federer with two blistering cross court forehands and looked on track for a second-straight win over the world No. 3 when he went up a break in the second set, before Federer found form.
The Australian had his share of break point opportunities in the fourth set, but Federer was able to convert his in the fifth game, and went on to take the match in 2 hours, 50 minutes.
"Halfway through the second match I was thinking, 'I want 2-0,'" Australia captain Pat Rafter said. "I was getting my hopes up there for a little bit, but you expect Roger to find his game and start serving well. That's why he has been at the top so long."
The 59th-ranked Tomic started slowly and appeared to experience difficulty coming to grips with the uneven bounce of the grass court before beating Wawrinka.
Tomic converted 81 percent of his first serves and won all of his second-serve points, while No. 28-ranked Wawrinka, who is recovering from a foot injury sustained at the U.S. Open, made 14 unforced errors.
After serving his way out of trouble to move to 5-4 in the second set, Tomic broke serve to level the match at a set apiece.
The seesawing third set featured three breaks of serve before Tomic held firm to take a set advantage. He held off a break point in the fourth game of the fourth set before breaking Wawrinka in the fifth and ninth games, then finished the match with a backhand down the line.
In Saturday's doubles, Hewitt and big-serving Chris Guccione will play Federer and Wawrinka, who won gold together in the doubles at the 2008 Olympics.
The winner of the playoff takes a place in the Davis Cup World Group for next year, while the loser returns to play zonal qualifiers.