BRITISH doubles specialist and cancer survivor Ross Hutchins toasted an emotional winning return to grand slam tennis yesterday at the Australian Open.
Hutchins and Colin Fleming won in three sets to reach the second round in Melbourne just 13 months after the 28-year-old was diagnosed with Hodgkins lymphoma.
The south Londoner, a close friend of Andy Murray, underwent six months of chemotherapy before beginning his incredible comeback in July.
Having missed the entire 2013 season, he returned to competitive action alongside Scottish long-time sidekick Fleming on 29 December, losing twice in preparation for the year’s first major tournament.
And the pair, who have won three titles together, confirmed their return to the big stage by beating Australian Marinko Matosevic and Pole Michal Przysiezny 4-6, 6-4, 6-0 – Hutchins’ first win since his illness.
“It’s an amazing feeling to be back, and especially to get our first win since coming back in 2014,” he said.
“I think we have played some good tennis this year so far, but unfortunately we lost our first two matches. My level probably wasn’t as high as I hoped it had been.
“But I think we did well to dig out a win. It was actually brilliant to be honest, and I’m loving the feeling right now.
“This is a fantastic tournament and I’m just thrilled to be back involved and back able to hopefully try to win more matches.”
Hutchins and Fleming were a regular pairing for Great Britain in Davis Cup ties before his lay-off, and he could now return to the team for this month’s high-profile clash with the United States.
The pair have won their last three Davis Cup doubles rubbers and, with the return from injury of British No1 Murray, GB could be at full strength for the World Group first round tie – a repeat of the competition’s very first contest in 1900 – which is due to start in San Diego on 31 January.