Andy Roddick eased into the second round of the Australian Open on Monday before declaring that one of his aims for 2009 was to put himself back into the small group of elite men who are always vying for top honours.
The American seventh seed thrashed Sweden's Bjorn Rehnquist 6-0, 6-2, 6-2 in just 105 minutes to set up a clash with Belgium's Xavier Malisse, who demolished France's Michael Llodra 7-6, 6-1, 6-1.
The 26-year-old Roddick, who won the U.S. Open in 2003, admitted he had recently slipped out of people's minds with Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray now dominating talk of favouritism before grand slam tournaments.
"They absolutely deserve to be the four that get talked about right now," Roddick told reporters. "My results last year, especially in slams, don't warrant me being talked about."
Roddick lost in the third round at Melbourne Park last year, missed the French Open with a shoulder injury and lost in the second round at Wimbledon before making a run to U.S. Open quarter-final.
"The thing about sports is no one really remembers yesterday, and that's fair," he added.
"You have to go out and prove yourself on a daily basis. I have no problem with that.
"I feel like last year was disappointing for me. A good year (in 2009) is obviously winning a big tournament and trying to get back into the conversation."
While he won three tournaments last year, he was also forced to withdraw from the season-ending Masters Cup in Shanghai with an ankle injury.
He returned to action at the Doha tournament in Qatar earlier this month, advancing to the final which he lost to Murray.
On Monday, Roddick was impressive in beating the 31-year-old qualifier, breaking him at will and using his booming serve to smash nine aces.
Roddick said he had been pleased with his game, particularly the way he managed to control his rallies until a certain opportunity to kill off the point presented itself.
"I think he liked it when it was flat into his backhand," Roddick added. "So it was something conscious. I would wait back until I had a forehand and I could bully him into that corner."
Rehnquist, who was cheered loudly by a small group of boisterous Swedish fans, saved the first match point with a smash, but Roddick was not to be denied on the next point when his opponent hit a backhand into the net.
Roddick, who made just 10 unforced errors to Rehnquist's 37, said he expected a tough workout against Belgium's Malisse.
"Xavier is tough. He's gone through quallies (qualifying).
"He won pretty handily today. He's got matches behind him. I think everyone knows he's extremely capable when healthy.
"I think his track record speaks for how dangerous he can be. So... I'll have to be ready."