Hutchins backs Murray

Ross Hutchins has just been through what can only be described as a hellish last six months, yet you could not meet a more positive person.

Last Updated: 26/06/13 at 11:19 Post Comment

Ross Hutchins: Slazenger 8 event at Lillywhites in London

Ross Hutchins: Slazenger 8 event at Lillywhites in London

Not only has he just completed his final chemotherapy session after being diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma cancer last December, but he is now committed to beginning his journey back to becoming a Davis Cup regular again.

He was originally supposed to be on a three-month chemo plan, but because the cancer had spread throughout his body and become more serious, it became six months.

The 28-year-old's final session ended up being three days before a charity event at Queen's Club he spent time organising called Rally Against Cancer.

He was joined by a star studded list of people including the likes of Sir Richard Branson, Mayor of London Boris Johnson as well as his best friend Andy Murray and former British No 1 Tim Henman to name but a few.

Hutchins' idea was to raise money for the Royal Marsden Hospital in Sutton and to also help inspire people with the same condition.

"I'm doing well," Hutchins told me. "I've been having chemotherapy, so that's come to an end of my initial treatment plan.

"Now I've got to wait a month to have tests done, which will show if the cancer has completely gone and then it will be another three months after that whether I will know I'm in remission or not."

Target smashed

Hutchins had set out to raise £100,000 for his charity event at Queen's, but it seems that target has now been smashed.

"I think we're close to £250,00 in total and we hope to get a quarter of a million soon," said Wimbledon-born Hutchins.

"People have reached out to me saying that I've given them strength, which is just so heartwarming and fulfilling.

"I want to help me because they've helped me with their support. If I can do anything for anyone, then I'm touched and pleased.

"I'm feeling well, I'm positive and I'm really looking forward to Wimbledon."

If everything does go well for Hutchins his next target will be to get himself fit and back playing with doubles partner Colin Fleming for Great Britain's Davis Cup team.

The pair had reached two grand slam doubles quarter-finals together in 2011 as well as winning the doubles rubber in Britain's previous three ties before Hutchins' illness.

"I was part of the Davis Cup coaching staff against Russia in the last match and I will be again against Croatia in the World Group Play-Off in September, so that will be something to look forward to," said the 28-year-old.

"I always set targets and look forward with aims and goals and that will be a big game for us to win that match. I'll be doing everything I can to help. And if we do make it through, then I'll be knocking on the door trying to get my spot back."

And Hutchins seems convinced that his best friend Andy Murray can secure his second grand slam title and his first at the All England Club this year.

"He's got as good a chance as anybody," said Hutchins, who was attending an event on behalf Slazenger in London. "I think Murray, (Novak) Djokovic and (Rafael) Nadal are the three favourites for me. They are all of a very similar standard.

"I think Nadal showed that he is still the 'King of Clay' having won eight of the last nine French Open titles - but on grass, I think they're all the same.

"It's going to come down to a couple of games and a couple of points in the latter stages. I think they will all get to the latter stages - the quarters or semis - and then it will come down to who can really perform on the day - who is the strongest - who hasn't picked up an injury and who has the belief.

"Andy's form as we saw at Queen's last week was fantastic. He beat (Nicolas) Mahut and (Jo-Wilfred) Tsonga and these guys are tough players on grass, especially when you haven't been playing matches before that."

Hutchins also believes Andy Murray made the correct decision to pull out of the French Open in order to recuperate due to a back injury he picked up during the Rome Masters.

"Well, I think he absolutely made the right call to pull out of Paris," admitted Hutchins.

"When you're a top player at any sports, you want to play the big events, so I know that was very disappointing, but it gave him that time he needed to rest his back, to be able to focus more on the grass courts and focus more on Queen's.

"I think that will help him both physically and injury wise so that he be healthy in mind and body for the start of Wimbledon."

Unqualified success

Ivan Lendl took over as Murray's right-hand man at the start of last year and right-hander Hutchins says the partnership has been an unqualified success after he helped the Scot win Olympic gold and then break his grand slam duck at the US Open.

He feels that the eight-time grand slam winner has instilled a tactical nous as well as enormous belief into Murray's game which has helped him rise to No 2 in the rankings.

"Ivan knows as well as anyone, may be apart from Roger Federer, how to win matches and grand slam title," he said.

"Ivan has been there and got the t-shirt. He knows when to practice, how much to practice and what to think.

"He has an eye for tactics that maybe others don't because players like Nadal, Federer, Djokovic and Murray don't come around often. They have a different eye for tennis that nobody else in the world can match.

"Ivan passes along his wisdom and his relationship with Andy is fantastic. He's given him enormous confidence and the knowledge and belief that 'you are a grand slam champion, so go out and play and believe in yourself'. And Andy has shown that in the last few grand slams."

The added pressure of playing in front of a passionate and patriotic crowd at the All England Club could be a detriment to Murray's game - but Hutchins is sure the partisan atmosphere will inspire the British No 1.

"I don't think he will feel extra pressure because of the fact that he is a grand slam champion and the fact that he is a gold medallist at the Olympics - on the grass. That will help stand him in very good stead for the latter stages, which I believe he will be."

He also seems pretty adamant that his best friend Murray will come good and claim his first Wimbledon crown at SW19 this summer.

"It wouldn't surprise me if it's a Murray-Djokovic final," he said. "I think Andy will make it through. I think Nadal, Federer will be very close after and (David) Ferrer will be tough to beat.

"It wouldn't surprise me (if the final went to five sets). I wouldn't mind how he does it, whether it's in straight sets or in five sets - a couple of days or in 10 minutes, it would be amazing for Andy to win Wimbledon. It's something he deserves."

Ross Hutchins was speaking from Lillywhites, London. How many balls are in the giant container in the store window? Tweet your guess to @slazengersport using #SlazengerBalls for your chance to win Men's Wimbledon Final Tickets, courtesy of official ball supplier, Slazenger.

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