British tennis player Ross Hutchins spent much of his time lying in bed at London's Royal Marsden Hospital during his chemotherapy sessions dreaming of his training sessions with Andy Murray.
So it was with great pleasure that all tennis fans read that Hutchins was to finally return to Miami to join his best friend and Wimbledon champion Murray later this week as he prepares to relaunch his career.
In a touching interview with the Daily Mail, the 28-year-old cancer fighter revealed how memories of training with his British tennis compatriot had spurred him on and given him hope and excitement.
It was at Christmas last year that he was told he had been diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma, and it has been a very tough road back to a full recovery for the doubles specialist.
So it is wonderful to discover that this very week - 11 months on from the tough day of hearing the bad news from doctors - Hutchins is to arrive back on the east coast of America to join up with his great friend Murray.
“Andy’s my best mate. I want to be with him,” Hutchins told the Daily Mail. “I’ve spent some good time with him recently. Obviously I haven’t travelled at all and with his back issue he has been around a little bit more so it’s been nice to see him.
“But above all we’re going to be there practising hard and training our socks off. I can only imagine how hard he is going to train.
“Amongst Andy and the boys, we’ve had some of our most enjoyable times in Miami and that was something I used to reminisce on when I was on my own or going through chemo.
“It will be a good test because I know that I used to love it and that was big for me while I was going through chemo because you have your thoughts of what you miss. That was one thing I really thought that I want to get healthy for because I want to be back there this year and really feel good again."
Murray - who has been asked by Hutchins to be his best man when he marries fiancée Lindsay next year – was playing on Centre Court winning Wimbledon eight days before Hutchins received the all clear and he is now keen to join in his friend’s tough regime.
“I’ll do all of it," insisted Hutchins. “Sometimes if we are doing bike sessions, he’ll do a further distance than me but I’ll push myself to the limit. If we are doing running sessions, I’ll try and keep up with him.
“My base level is normally decent and his is exceptional but I can normally handle myself to an extent against him and I’ve trained pretty hard going into Miami which is slightly different from previous years. But I have to be ready because I don’t want to be embarrassed out there.”
Hutchins has made frequent appearances on the Eurosport sofa as part of his media work during a long lay-off, but he is now delighted to get back into the game and is optimistic about his future prospects.
“I think everything happens for a reason,” he said. “I’ve always believed that, and I think that when I got diagnosed, I almost looked at it as a chance to do and succeed at something else which is what the media work has been. I’ve really enjoyed the punditry and commentary.
“But I feel like I have another eight to ten years in the game. I love tennis first and foremost, I’m a tennis player and the aim for me is to be better than what I was before. I still have a lot to achieve in the game and that is the ultimate goal.”
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- Andy Murray