London - Lleyton Hewitt's Wimbledon farewell ended in an agonising defeat as Finland's Jarkko Nieminen out-lasted the 2002 champion 3-6, 6-3, 4-6, 6-0, 11-9 in a thrilling first round clash on Monday.
Hewitt is embarking on a prolonged goodbye tour before retiring after next year's Australian Open and he was hoping for one last hurrah on his 17th and final visit to the All England Club.
But, despite saving three match points, the 34-year-old Australian eventually succumbed in exactly four hours of gruelling drama in the baking temperatures on Court Two.
Nieminen, also playing in his final Wimbledon, will face world number one and defending champion Novak Djokovic in the second round.
Meanwhile Japan's fifth seed Kei Nishikori overcame an
injury scare to reach the second round with a
gruelling 6-3, 6-7 (4/7), 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 win over Italy's Simone Bolelli.
Nishikori, who needed his left leg strapped in the final set, will face Santiago Giraldo of Colombia for a place in the last 32.