Perth, 2 January 2011 | AAP

A refreshed Lleyton Hewitt made a triumphant return to the court as Australia defeated Belgium in a thrilling Hopman Cup tie in Perth on Saturday night.

Hewitt, playing his first match since injuring his hand in September, defeated world No.178 Ruben Bemelmans 6-4 6-3 in the men’s singles to level the tie at 1-1 after Justine Henin defeated Alicia Molik 6-4 6-4 earlier in the day.

In front of a sell-out crowd of 7414, Australia came from a set down in the deciding mixed doubles to prevail 1-6 6-3 10-8 (championship tiebreak).

Hewitt moved freely and showed no signs of the hip and knee problems that plagued him last year before his campaign was finally ended by a hand injury.

“It doesn’t matter how many practice sets you play out there, getting that match toughness back isn’t easy,” Hewitt said.

“I’m just happy to get through in straight sets.

“Being down break points and getting out of those situations, that stuff you can’t buy.

“Overall my movement was pretty good today.

“It’s good to wake up and be injury free.

“It feels like it’s been a long time.

“I just feel the next few years is obviously probably my last few years and I want to get the most out of them.”

Hewitt’s ranking slipped to 54 during his injury-enforced layoff, but the former world No.1 said his victory over Roger Federer in Halle last year gave him confidence he could still make an impact at the four majors.

“It gave me a lot of self belief that I’m still able to go out there and compete against the best guys in the world,” he said.

Earlier, Henin said she was satisfied with her win over Molik despite struggling with her serve at times.

Henin, playing her first match in almost six months after recovering from a career-threatening elbow injury, admitted she felt some pain in the joint.

“Yeah I can’t play 100 per cent free of pain but it’s getting better,” Henin said.

“A few weeks ago I really didn’t know if I was going to be able to come here to Australia.

“I had to work really hard in the last few weeks just to try to serve with no pain.

“I’m not yet 100 per cent but feeling better. It’s good for a first match, I won and that’s (the) most important (thing).

“I’m just glad I’m healthy, almost there, and now I have to build my confidence back and find my rhythm.

“Alicia wasn’t an easy opponent to play first because she was changing the rhythm a lot, especially with the slice. I was a bit out of the rhythm.”