MELBOURNE, Australia – Andy Murray advanced with ease while national tennis icon Lleyton Hewitt ended his career at his 20th Australian Open with a 6-2, 6-4, 6-4 loss to David Ferrer on Thursday in the second round.
Hewitt, who debuted in 1997 at age 15 and a became a rare teenage world No. 1, went down to defeat to end his competitive run as he steps into the shoes of Australian Davis Cup captain.
A full-house crowd on the Rod Laver Arena gave the 34-year-old Hewitt, who has 30 career titles, including the U.S. Open and Wimbledon, a hero's send off.
Hewitt thrilled the fans who have loved, as well as shunned, him over a turbulent two decades, mounting his characteristic comebacks before losing to Ferrer.
Aussie outsider John Millman got a feel-good win over Gilles Muller, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2, 4-6, 7-5.
But there was no lifeline for Sam Groth against Murray, who beat the big hitter 6-0, 6-4, 6-1 for a 17-0 career record against Australians.
"I had a bad serving day against the No. 2 player in the world, that's probably not going to cut it," Groth said. "If I don't serve well against a guy, I'm in a bit of trouble."
Murray has made a career out of spoiling hometown scenarios at the four majors and has only lost once — to Frenchman Gael Monfils — when playing a local player at a home Grand Slam.
"I returned well and he didn't start serving so well, that helped," Murray said. "My return put pressure on him, I passed and lobbed well, that's what I needed to get the win."
Stan Wawrinka, the 2014 champion and fourth seed, held off 37-year-old Czech Radek Stepanek, 6-2, 6-3, 6-4. John Isner, the 10th seed, advanced past Marcel Granollers, 6-3, 7-6 (8-6), 7-6 (7-2).
In the women's draw, Maria Sharapova, who won the title here in 2008 and has lost three finals, including last year to Serena Williams, advanced to the fourth round with a 6-1, 6-7 (5), 6-1, her 600th tour-level match win.
"Wow. I've won 600 matches?" Sharapova asked, responding to a question in an on-court interview.
"Is this like a friendly reminder that I'm getting old? Might be."