Former World no.1 Andy Murray lost 6-2 to Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut after Novak Djokovic pulled out of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship because of his elbow injury.
In one-set exhibition match, the Scot dropped the first four games on his return and still limped around the court.
Murray was forced to withdraw from 2017 season prematurely after his quarter-final stage defeat by Sam Querrey in July due to hip injury.
Double Olympic Champion has had six months out of competitive tennis
But the worldsaid he had passed his fitness test.
“It was nice,” Andy Murray said.
“It felt better as it went on, a little bit slow at the start and when you’be been out for a long time it takes a little while to get up to that pace,
“I was planning on stopping here for a couple of days on the way over to Australia to get pratice with the guys here.
“Obviously it was unfortunate that Novak was not able to play.
“I was here so I agreed to play a set and obviously I am happy to be able to come out here and play in front of everyone.
“It was good fun. I have missed it and hopefully I can come back again.”
Murray will now look forward to Brisbane International next week as a warm-up event before the Australian Open starts on January 15.
But Djokovic, who has also been out since Wimbledon, is now a doubt for the first Grand Slam of the season.
“Unfortunately, my medical team has advised me that my elbow needs more time to recover,” Djokovic said.