MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — For British doubles player Ross Hutchins, who has battled Hodgkin’s lymphoma for the past year, just taking part in this year’s Australian Open wasn’t good enough. He wanted to win.
Hutchins’ comeback at Melbourne Park lasted only two rounds, however, as he and partner Colin Fleming were beaten Saturday by the Indian-Pakistani combination of Rohan Bopanna and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.
“It is great to be back when we look back at what we’ve been through the last year, but right now it’s disappointing because we want to go deep in these events,” Hutchins said. “We’re not a team that wants to lose in the second round of the biggest tournaments. We want to go further.”
Being back in the draw, though, is remarkable considering where he was a year ago. After struggling with back pain at the end of 2012, Hutchins was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer of the white blood cells. The cancer had started in his chest and spread to his back, legs and spleen.
He started chemotherapy last January, just as the Australian Open was getting under way in Melbourne, and six months later his cancer was in remission.
Hutchins and Fleming, who have reached the quarterfinals at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, returned to competition as a team at the start of the year in Brisbane, losing in the first round.
Hutchins said this week that one of the players who beat him in Brisbane, Jeremy Chardy, said he felt bad for him after winning the match.
“I’m like, no, don’t,” the 28-year-old Hutchins said. “I want to be treated as another player who, you know, has just as much chance to win or lose and to be ruthless out there with these other guys … and to win matches on our own, not for people taking pity on us.”
Hutchins and Fleming got their first win of the year when they beat Marinko Matosevic and Michal Przysiezny in the first round of the Australian Open. They outplayed the seventh-seeded team of Bopanna and Qureshi for the first set, as well, but Hutchins acknowledges that his serving let the team down toward the end.
Physically, though, he felt fine.
“We train hard and we look after our bodies so we were not struggling physically in three sets,” he said. “It was just a question of momentum.”
Now Hutchins and Fleming are looking forward to possibly playing in the Davis Cup against the United States, which will be held at a makeshift clay court in the outfield of San Diego’s Petco Park next month.
They’re hoping their solid record together over the 2011-12 seasons will earn them selection in the British team alongside Andy Murray.
“Davis Cup is an amazing atmosphere to play whether it’s home or away and the prospect of playing in San Diego, GB-USA, World Group again, baseball stadium — everything’s there for an amazing tie,” Fleming said. “Everyone’s hoping to be a part of it.”