Lleyton Hewitt is confident his dream of playing in the London Olympics remains alive despite being ruled out for the next four months after undergoing foot surgery.
Hewitt, who turned 31 on Friday, had the big toe of his left foot operated on in a bid to finally end the problems which have plagued him for five years.
He said he had barely had one pain-free day in the past 12 months and was in considerable discomfort during the Australian Open in January where he battled past seeds Andy Roddick and Milos Raonic to reach the fourth round.
He also had to overcome pain to help Australia win the recent Davis Cup Asia/Oceania qualifier against China.
Hewitt and Chris Guccione remain realistic medal hopes in the doubles in London.
The pair defeated Swiss stars Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka in the Davis Cup World Group play-off in Sydney last year, although Australia lost the tie.
Hewitt, who has more Davis Cup singles wins than any other Australian player, is desperate to compete again for his country in London.
Both Hewitt and Guccione will need wildcards into the Olympics but manager David Drysdale is confident Hewitt’s record will help him gain a spot.
“There’s no place he’d rather play, other than the Australian Open, than Wimbledon and the fact the Olympics will be held at Wimbledon, we’re hoping that the ITF will give him a wildcard into that,” Drysdale told AAP on Friday.
“We feel that with his commitment to Davis Cup in the past the ITF should look at that favourably.”
He said that Hewitt hoped to be able to practise for at least two weeks before the Wimbledon lead-in tournament at Queen’s. He is set to receive wildcards into both events.
While he will not be match fit, Drysdale said Hewitt could never be ruled out on his favourite surface.
“I think the fact that it is on grass, it probably suits Lleyton more than any other player to come back on because other players have to adjust to that surface as well,” he said.
“If anything it’s an advantage to Lleyton and most players would see him as a real threat on that type of surface.
“The surgeon is very confident that he will be right to go for Queen’s.
“And the bonus of having this done now is it means Lleyton will be ready for there and then he can continue on into 2013.”
Drysdale described Hewitt’s ball-striking as “probably the best it’s been for quite a number of years” and said he had no plans to retire in the short-term.