Rudderless after severing ties with his coach Jason Stoltenberg during the French Open last week, Hewitt struggled throughout on the slick Queen's Club grass.
Still, though, he insisted pressure had not got the better of him in his pursuit of a record fourth successive crown here.
"Pressure's pressure, mate... whooppee-doo," he said.
Still, it was hardly an encouraging display before the defence of his Wimbledon crown later this month, and must have taken a little of the shine off the ATP Player of the Year award he received on court at the end of the match.
"He gave me a real run for my money," the Australian world number one conceded afterwards.
"I was trying to find my footing out there but didn't feel as good as I did at Wimbledon (last year).
"At least this gives me another opportunity to get another match under my belt here.
"You know, there was a lot more pressure and expectation on me than on Raemon Sluiter out there, so I am pretty happy," he added.
Former Wimbledon champion Richard Krajicek advanced in dying daylight, beating Jan Vacek 7-5, 2-6, 6-3. His reward is a match-up against another member of that exclusive club, 1992
Earlier, Greg Rusedski and Alex Bogdanovic provided some British cheer. Rusedski moved into the third round with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Morocco's Hicham Arazi in 66 minutes.
Bogdanovic lost a titanic second round battle with Anthony Dupuis, but not before giving the Frenchman an almighty scare in the 3-6, 7-6, 7-6 defeat.
At 361 in the world, Bogdanovic is ranked 280 below the Frenchman but held a total of six match points before bowing out. The result was not what home fans had been craving, but his performance and fighting spirit was a boost for the success-starved British supporters.
Former champion Todd Martin left early, forced to quit the 800,000 Euro ($939,300) event with a chest injury.
Martin, winner of the tournament in 1994, suffered a tear to a chest muscle on Sunday.
The American played on Monday, defeating Brazil's Ricardo Mello in straight sets in the first round, but the injury failed to improve in time for him to take on fifth seed Sjeng Schalken.
The injury could sideline Martin for up to four weeks, but he is optimistic of making Wimbledon, which starts on June 23.
In other action, Switzerland's Marc Rosset ousted ninth seed Jarkko Nieminen of Finland 7-5, 7-5 and Belgian Dick Norman beat Brazil's Andre Sa 6-3, 7-6.