London: Australian veteran Lleyton Hewitt put weeks of pain and a battle for form behind him as he savoured an impressive Wimbledon victory with the words: "This is what I play for".
The 2002 champion is recovering from foot surgery and a loss of form that has seen his world ranking plunge to 130 and admitted that if it wasn't the grass court Grand Slam, he would be literally putting his feet up.
"If it wasn't Wimbledon, I wouldn't be out there. I'd be looking after my body a bit more. This is what I play for," he said.
"It's been rough, sort of a day-to-day thing. Knowing the whole time that it's not just going to disappear magically overnight. That's the hard thing. You wake up, it's pretty sore," he said of his recovering foot.
"I've had to try and block it out as much as possible and still get on with practice and doing all the right things to prepare myself as well as possible."
"I've told everyone we'll sit back and think about it after the tournament."
Hewitt saw off a gritty performance from Japan's Kei Nishikori in the first round on Tuesday, digging deep for a 6-1, 7-6 (7/4), 6-7 (7/9), 6-3 win.
The 30-year-old sunk to his knees to celebrate victory, having won only six matches all year.
"It was very satisfying, considering what I've been through, mentally and physically what I've had to go through to try and even get on the court," the former world number one said.
The victory set up a clash with Swedish fifth seed Robin Soderling, likely on one of the bigger show courts.
"I'll be up for it, that's for sure," the Adelaide right-hander said. "I'll be right come Thursday. It's going to be another tough test. He's another step up from Nishikori. Especially on this surface, he's a dangerous player.
"He's a big striker off both sides, forehand and backhand, from the baseline, and got a big serve."
Hewitt leads Soderling 3-1 in clashes between the pair, with the Swede claiming victory last time out at Cincinnati in 2010.
"It was an extremely tight match in three sets," Hewitt recalled. "I've got to go out there and play my game, obviously try to dictate play as much as possible."
"Then again, I'm going to have to return and move extremely well to put him under some kind of pressure. He's the guy that wants to be playing on his terms and trying to dictate me around. So it will be a good matchup."