MELBOURNE // British cancer survivor Ross Hutchins said he just wanted to be treated like any other player after he made a winning return to grand slam tournament doubles tennis.
Hutchins, who was out for a year with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, thanked his supporters, including Andy Murray who dedicated his Brisbane International title last year to his stricken friend.
But Hutchins, who capped his amazing comeback with a victory alongside partner Colin Fleming in the Australian Open’s first round, said they were not expecting any favours from their opponents.
“It’s meant a lot to me to have the support,” Hutchins said. “At the same time, I want to be treated as another player who has just as much chance to win or lose and to be ruthless out there with these other guys.
“[We just want to] to become better competitors and to win matches on our own, not for people taking pity on us, which hopefully they don’t. We can beat them on our own merits.”
The diagnosis of Hutchins, 28, shocked the close-knit British tennis scene and prompted an emotional tribute from Murray as he accepted the trophy in Brisbane last January.
Hutchins, who adopted a new diet during his treatment, which included several rounds of chemotherapy, said he felt fitter now than at any time in his career.
“I definitely feel in better shape now than I probably have done, as I’ve said to a couple of media people here, than in the last six or seven years,” he said.
“I do feel really fit and strong. I don’t feel any sort of tiredness or any fatigue when I’m playing matches out there. It was pretty warm today. I felt pretty good.
“We thought we could have gone five sets today because for some reason we weren’t struggling.”
The British pair beat Australian-Polish duo Marinko Matosevic and Michal Przysiezny 4-6, 6-4, 6-0 to reach the second round.
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