Melbourne (AFP) - Spain's Feliciano Lopez fought off jet lag to open the Kooyong Classic with a 6-7 (4/7), 6-4, 11-9 comeback win over an injury-hampered Gilles Simon on Tuesday.
Despite Simon's abdominal injury, Lopez had to save four match points before prevailing against the world number 15 from France.
Simon's camp said the problem stemmed from a shoulder injury from September, resulting in a compensated serving action which had strained his abdominal muscles.
"But besides this problem, I'm fine," Simon said at the tournament in Melbourne, a week before the year's opening Grand Slam. "I hope to get this better and play well in the Australian Open."
Nicolas Almagro became the second Spaniard to advance as he beat France's Paul-Henri Mathieu 7-5, 6-3, rallying from 3-5 down in the first set and winning five games in a row during his fightback at an event expanded this year to a dozen players.
"I played well, I feel good about my tennis," the newly married Spaniard said. "I'm ready to play in my 11th Australian Open.
"I'm ready to fight, I'm healthy and I'm over the last two tough years (injuries)."
Korea's Chung Hyeon won a battle of young guns as he defeated Australian Omar Jasika 6-4, 6-3 in just 71 minutes.
The 19-year-old Chung, ranked 51, recovered from an early break to win the first set in 40 minutes, then broke twice in the second as he raced to victory.
"It was a tough match against a lefty," Chung said.
"I played some good points and was also lucky. I'm looking forward to playing the Australian Open for the first time. I lost to Omar six months ago and today I got my revenge."
- 'He was having problems' -
Lopez, ranked 19th in the world, started his ATP season with a first-round defeat last week in Doha, and complained of jet lag after only arriving in Melbourne at the weekend.
"I have big jet lag in my body right now," the 33-year-old said. "I'm looking forward to playing better on Friday in my second match.
"I've always said this is the best preparation for the Open. The courts and conditions are the same -- even the wind is there. It's great be back in Australia and playing again."
Simon took 50 minutes to win the opening set, but appeared to be struggling physically in the second.
Lopez finally secured a break on his seventh opportunity for a 2-1 lead, but lost it in the sixth game to go 3-3. Simon dropped serve a game later with Lopez squaring the match after the 37-minute set.
Lopez fought back from 1-5 down to 4-7 in the tiebreak set and then saved a quartet of Simon match points before closing out the win.
"I could tell he was having some problems, it's always difficult to play against an injured opponent," Lopez said. "You just hope that you react well."