ROSS HUTCHINS, who has spent more than a year out of tennis since being diagnosed with cancer, will make his grand-slam return to the sport in Australia in January.
Colin Fleming, his Scottish doubles partner, said yesterday the 28-year-old Englishman is back in full training and the pair will travel to Spain next month for an intensive block before travelling to the Australian Open. Hutchins was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma a year ago, but it is now in remission.
Fleming, 29, said: "Ross has fully recovered and has been training for some time. We will be back on court in the first week of the new year."
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The pair will be in the main draw of the Australian Open as Hutchins' ranking has been protected because of his illness. "We will not be seeded but we aim to be the dark horses," said Fleming, in Glasgow for a training session at the Western Tennis Club in Hyndland with prizewinners in the McCrea West End tournament for children. "I will be training with him next week in London and he will go out to Miami with Andy [Murray], then we will do a week in Spain and head off to Australia."
Fleming added: "It is an amazing recovery. Ross has his strength back, got the life back in him and he looks superb. He is playing really well too. It is as if he has never been away. Ross is always very motivated but his illness has multiplied that, he is so fired up and ready to make the most of any opportunities. It has given that bit of perspective. It is inspirational for me too."
Hutchins' diagnosis came last November as the pair were completing their training for the 2013 season.
The partnership was on the verge of breaking into the top eight in the world. They were the alternates at the 2012 Barclays ATP World Tour finals at the O2 in London and have set a return to that venue as playing participants as their goal for next season. "We have not played together for more than year competitively and I am really excited about being back on court together," Fleming said.
The partnership has the short-term goal of playing well in Melbourne but Fleming believes both he and Hutchins have the potential to make an impact at the very top of the game.
"We are hugely ambitious and we want to win a grand slam," he said. "If that happened then we would want to push on and be the world's No.1 doubles team."
He added: "We have great one-off results that show we can play at the top level. There are immediate goals but the way Ross is playing there is no reason why we cannot aim for London next year."