Ross Hutchins: Andy Murray's been so supportive

Ross Hutchins, who has been diagnosed with cancer, tells Paul Newman about the 'brilliant' support he's had from best mate Murray and the wider tennis world

Ross Hutchins knows that when it comes to tennis he will never be in the same league as his closest friend, Andy Murray, but the 27-year-old Briton's status as one of the most popular figures in the game has been underlined by a huge wave of support since his disclosure that he has cancer.

Hutchins, who will begin six months of chemotherapy for Hodgkin's lymphoma this morning, revealed his diagnosis on Sunday, hours after Murray had dedicated his victory in the Brisbane International to someone he referred to only as "a sick friend". Hutchins revealed his cancer later that morning.

"After I announced it on Twitter, there must have been more than 1,000 messages," Hutchins said. "I read every single one, from people who are currently going through Hodgkin's lymphoma, people who are going through cancer, people who've had it and come through, strong people who are in remission, people offering advice. I also got support from a lot of players.

"I can't get my head around the fact that all these messages are for me and that I'm the one who has this problem. I'm struggling to believe it. I'm very touched. I am overwhelmed."

Hutchins, who was talking by telephone from London as many of his closest friends prepare for the start of the Australian Open here next week, said that nobody had been more supportive than Murray. They have been close since they met while playing under-12s tennis. Outside of his family, Murray was the first person Hutchins told of his diagnosis, which he was given two days after Christmas.

"I said to Andy: 'I don't know whether to tell you. I don't want to ruin your preparation. I know you've been working hard, but as my best friend, I want you to know something before it gets out because I kind of want you with me on this one.' He's been brilliant. He's sent a gift and is asking every day how I'm feeling. He wants to know every single detail, however bad or good it is, when I get tough news about whether it's spread or not, or when I get good news.

"It makes me feel good he actually won Brisbane because I think it was very upsetting for him to hear my news, as it was for everyone. Not that it would affect him because he's such a professional and is able to switch off and get back into tennis mode. I had no doubt he would. I probably wouldn't have mentioned it to people I didn't think could handle it. He's been absolutely unbelievable and so supportive with me the whole way."

Hutchins had no idea that Murray was going to dedicate his Brisbane win to him, but knew instantly that the Scot was referring to him when he appeared to write "For you Perched" on the camera lens after his win. "It was a personal name he calls me and no one else in the world calls me," Hutchins said. "It's been a running joke for years."

In Murray's presentation speech, which Hutchins was watching back home, the world No 3 sent his friend a message: "You're going to be OK. You're going to get through."

Hutchins said: "It did bring a tear to my eye. I was very moved by it. I was quite emotional when he said that. I didn't expect it at all, but he's been so supportive, wanting to know about everything, all the details. He's researched everything so well. He's probably researched it more than my doctor.

"He researches things so thoroughly – fantasy football, rankings, the history of tennis, now this – that he knows so much about them. He's been sending me links about guys who have gone through this and come out on top. He's just a guy who wants to know all the details about everything," Hutchins added.

The second friend he informed was Colin Fleming, his doubles partner both on the tour and in Britain's Davis Cup team. "He's been very supportive too," Hutchins said. "He's spoken to me every day since. He said to me: 'When you come back, I'll be there. This partnership will continue. We'll take on the world. We're going to win Slams together. We'll do this when you come back. I'm not going to be going anywhere. I'll be waiting.' That meant a lot to me."

If Hutchins is given the all-clear after six months of chemotherapy he is hoping to be back playing by the end of the year. The six months will be up during Wimbledon, when Hutchins would love nothing more than to see his friend lift the title.

"It would be absolutely incredible if Andy could win Wimbledon – and if it coincided with myself going into remission that would be even sweeter," he said. "I would love to be there to support him in every way in the final of Wimbledon. That would mean the world to me."

Doctors say the cancer could have been in Hutchins' body for up to 18 months. The first symptoms the world doubles No 28 can recall were back pains which he suffered in April and which went away in the summer but returned in the autumn. Hutchins had a series of tests in mid-December, at which stage the possibility of cancer was mentioned.

Hutchins said he and his family had "a tough 20 minutes" after learning the news on 27 December, but ever since then he has been thinking only positive thoughts. "The sooner I get this chemotherapy process going, the faster I can get this thing out of my body and the sooner I can get back on court," he said.

* Great Britain's Jamie Baker and James Ward are through to the second round of Australian Open qualifying. Baker completed a straight-sets victory over the Ecuadorean Julio Cesar Campozano, while Ward defeated Boris Pashanski of Serbia, also in straight sets.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: HR and Payroll Manager

£35000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This dynamic outsourced contact...

Recruitment Genius: Production & Quality Control Assistant

£19000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An excellent opportunity for a ...

Ashdown Group: Group HR Advisor - Kettering - £32,000

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Group HR Advisor with an established...

Guru Careers: HR Manager / HR Generalist

£40 - 50k (DOE) + Bonus: Guru Careers: We are seeking a HR Manager / HR Genera...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss