(CNN) -- Australian Lleyton Hewitt bowed out of his home Grand Slam event after an epic five-set match against 13th seed Fernando Gonzalez at Melbourne Park on Tuesday.
Hewitt dismissed talk of retirement at his post-match press conference.
Hewitt, who is returning to action after hip surgery, put up a tremendous fight before going down 5-7 6-2 6-2 3-6 6-3 in the first round on the Rod Laver Arena.
While Hewitt went out, there were easy opening wins for world number one Rafael Nadal and Britain's Andy Murray.
Nadal swept aside Belgian Christophe Rochus 6-0 6-2 6-2 in the late night match, pounding 41 winners in one hour and 17 minutes on court.
The outclassed Rochus received a massive cheer from the crowd when he finally got on the scoreboard at 6-0 2-0, but he was broken seven times by a top seed who looked in ominous form.
Earlier, fourth seed Murray earned a second round meeting with Spain's Marcel Granollers after his opponent Andrei Pavel retired part way through the second set.
Murray, unbeaten in 2009, was detained on court in blazing temperatures for only 45 minutes and led by a set and 3-1 when the Romanian quit with a back injury.
Last year's beaten finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga also made it through to the second round with a comfortable 6-4 6-4 6-0 victory against Juan Monaco of Argentina.
But the match of the day involved Hewitt, who had not failed to get beyond the first round at the Australian Open since 2002, but went into the match against the 2007 runner-up Gonzalez as the underdog.
Two-time grand slam winner Hewitt led by a set and bravely hit back to level at two sets all, but Gonzalez stepped up his game in the decider to claim an early break.
Former world number one Hewitt retrieved the break, but lost his own service again in the sixth game before Gonzalez wrapped it up in three hours seven minutes.
"I knew it was going to be tough against Lleyton," Gonzalez was quoted on the official Australian Open tournament Web site www.australianopen.com.
"He's a great player, a great competitor. This was the first official match of the year. So I'm happy the way that I did it."
Hewitt said he was disappointed not to progress further as he continues his comeback but rejected any talk of retirement.
"I think it's a good springboard for the rest of the year. I would have still liked to have gone a bit further in the tournament.
"If I was going to retire, then I wouldn't have had the surgery done."
Defending champion Novak Djokovic and world number two Roger Federer went through to the second round on Monday -- and Nadal was asked if he had gone out to make a statement to his rivals.
"I'm not thinking about that, I'm just trying to make sure I play well myself," the Spaniard replied. "Roger and Novak are in the other half of the draw...... I just have to worry about this half of the draw and my next match."