London - Lleyton Hewitt admitted he was relieved to be back on his favourite grass court as the Australian ended his losing streak with a 4-6, 6-1, 6-3 victory over America's Michael Russell in the first round at Queen's Club on Monday.
Hewitt is a four-time champion at the pre-Wimbledon warm-up event, but thoughts of a record fifth crown were some way from the former world number one's thoughts as he arrived in west London.
The 32-year-old is well into the twilight of his career and his lowly 82nd position in the world rankings reflects that diminished status.
Hewitt's first round defeat at the French Open, when he squandered a two-set lead against Gilles Simon, was his fourth successive defeat and he hadn't tasted victory since the first round of the Miami Masters back in March.
But the former Wimbledon champion put an end to that depressing sequence with a gritty win over Russell to set up a second round clash against Bulgarian 10th seed Grigor Dimitrov or Israel's Dudi Sela.
"It's one of my favorite events. I have always enjoyed getting off the clay anyway and onto the grass," Hewitt said.
"I have had such a good record here. Most times it's taken pretty good players to beat me here.
"The first game back on grass is always tough but in the end I found my rhythm a little bit better."
After producing a nervous first set, Hewitt responded well and broke twice early in the second set to level the match.
Hewitt appeared to have taken complete control with a break in the second game of the deciding set.
A double fault from the Australian gave Russell an instant break back.
But Hewitt landed the knockout blow when a wayward forehand from the American gifted him a 5-3 lead, which he immediately capitalised on by serving out the match.
It was the kind of hard-fought battle that Hewitt has always relished and he insisted he has no immediate thoughts of retiring because he loves competing on the big stage.
"I still enjoy the big tournaments, obviously Wimbledon and the Australian Open are two of my favourite tournaments," he said.
"I don't know how long I'll play for. I'm not going to keep answering that every day."
There was more success for Australia as Hewitt's compatriot Marinko Matosevic clinched a 7-5, 6-2 win over good friend Frederik Nielsen of Denmark.
"Yeah, it is (tough playing a friend)," Matosevic said. "I know Freddie really well. He's a great guy, one of the nice guys on the tour.
"It was a tough first set but the second set was pretty good. I'm feeling good.
"Happy to be off the clay (courts) and on the green stuff. Grass is one of my favourite surfaces."
World number 65 Matosevic, beaten in the French Open first round by eventual runner-up David Ferrer, next plays Spain's Pablo Andujar or France's Michael Llodra.
British wild card Daniel Evans caused a surprise as the world number 277 thrashed Argentina's Guido Pella, who is ranked 75th, 6-3, 6-1.
The 23-year-old then revealed he is determined to win enough matches to become a regular on the Tour because he wants to escape the strict confines of the National Tennis Centre, where many of Britain's most promising players live and train.
"At the NTC, you have to be in bed by 10:30. It's good being 15 again!" said Evans, who plays 13th seed Jarkko Nieminen or America's Ryan Harrison in the second round.
"There is a security guard who comes and checks. That's God's honest truth. They're pretty strict there on the juniors."
Belgian veteran Xavier Malisse set up a second round clash with former US Open champion and third seed Juan Martin del Potro after defeating Spain's Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 6-4, 5-7, 6-4.
Holland's Thiemo De Bakker earned a clash with second seed Tomas Berdych thanks to a 6-2, 7-6 (7/5) win against Serbia's Ilija Bozoljac.
Results from the first day of the ATP tournament at Queen's Club (x denotes seeding):
Daniel Evans (GBR) bt Guido Pella (ARG) 6-3, 6-1
Denis Kudla (USA) bt Federico Delbonis (ARG) 6-0, 6-3
Santiago Giraldo (COL) bt Jesse Levine (CAN) 6-4, 6-4
Aljaz Bedene (SLO) bt Paul-Henri Mathieu (FRA) 7-6 (7/5), 6-3
Benoit Paire (FRA x9) bt Jamie Baker (GBR) 7-5, 6-2
Marinko Matosevic (AUS) bt Frederik Nielsen (DEN) 7-5, 6-2
Ivan Dodig (CRO) bt James Ward (GBR) 6-7 (8/10), 7-6 (7/2), 7-6 (7/2)
Xavier Malisse (BEL) bt Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (ESP) 6-4, 5-7, 6-4
Thiemo De Bakker (NED) bt Ilija Bozoljac (SRB) 6-2, 7-6 (7/5)
Igor Sijsling (NED) bt Tatsuma Ito (JPN) 6-3, 7-5
Lleyton Hewitt (AUS) bt Michael Russell (USA) 4-6, 6-1, 6-3