The exhibition match, which was not part of the traditional Kooyong International event, provided plenty of entertainment for a good crowd despite the blustery conditions in east Melbourne.
Murray, who has been drawn against young American Ryan Harrison in the first round of the season’s opening grand slam, eventually prevailed 6-3, 7-6 (10/8). A tight first set went the way of the Scot when he broke twice from 3-3 although he relinquished the momentum at the start of the second when Nalbandian claimed the Murray serve.
The world No 4, under the watchful eye of new coach Ivan Lendl, hit back to level it at 4-4 although he did cause a scare when he clutched his knee after the opening point of the tenth game.
There appeared to be no lasting effect, though, as the set went to a tie-break, the start of which saw Murray narrowly fail to chase down a wide ball, prompting him to take a swig from a spectator’s beer.
The game could have gone either way with the wind causing both men to serve double faults at crucial times, but Murray eventually edged it after Nalbandian thrashed a backhand wide.