Marcos Baghdatis played through jet-lag to start the Kooyong Classic with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-1 win over Nikolay Davydenko on Wednesday as Australian Open preparations turned serious.
The 2006 Open finalist was a late call-up to the elite, eight-man event with world number one Roger Federer unable to play due to stomach illness.
Baghdatis was on court for more than two hours for his win, a welcome fillip after losing his first match of the season last week in Chennai.
The tournament ends on Saturday, two days before the start of the season's first grand slam.
"I was a bit tired from the travel, I need to play better for the Open," said the smiling Cypriot.
"I felt a bit heavy on court, I was not fluid. I had a bit of a pain in the knee but it was because of the jet-lag."
He added: "I feel much better physically this year than in 2007. When I came back to the Open after losing the final, I put so much pressure on me.
"Now I'm more experienced and know how to handle things. I just need to get some more matches under my belt."
Baghdatis, who holds two ATP titles, dominated world number four Davydenko with just 11 unforced errors.