Welcome return for Hutchins but Murray suffers early Qatar exit

Ross Hutchins made his comeback from illness in Brisbane as he was reunited with long-standing doubles partner Colin Fleming.

Andy Murray

The pair were beaten at the Brisbane International by Jeremy Chardy and Grigor Dimitrov but that was far from the story.

Hutchins was playing his first competitive match in over a year, having spent 2013 receiving treatment for, and then recovering from, Hodgkin lymphoma.

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The 28-year-old discovered the illness as he sought the reason for a back complaint and by the time he did, the cancer had spread through his body.

Tennis was quickly shelved but he went into remission in July and spent the end of the year preparing for his return to the court. That came with regular partner Fleming and it was like he had never been away as the pair took the first set to love.

Chardy and Dimitrov, clearly more battle-ready than Hutchins, fought back, though, and took the second set 6-4 before taking a deciding tie-break 10-4.

Hutchins and Fleming will look ahead to the rest of the month with the Australian Open ahead, while they are hopeful of winning a spot in Great Britain’s Davis Cup team for their match with the United States in San Diego.

Roger Federer looked in good shape as he started his Brisbane International bid with a win.

The Swiss, looking to climb back into the world’s top four after a poor 2013, dropped six games against Finland’s Jarkko Niemenen, winning 6-4 6-2 in the second round.

Federer will come up against a home favourite in the next round in the shape of Marinko Matosevic, who saw off Sam Querrey 5-7 7-6 (7/3) 6-4.

In the women’s draw, Maria Sharapova benefitted from a withdrawal as Ashleigh Barty could not take to the court because of a stomach problem.

Wimbledon champion Andy Murray’s ATP Tour comeback ended with defeat by Florian Mayer in the second round of the Qatar ExxonMobil Open.

Murray looked to be easing through when he led by a set and 3-0, but Mayer won 11 of the last 14 games to triumph 3-6 6-4 6-2.

Murray is not scheduled to play another tournament before the Australian Open and the early exit in Doha leaves him short of competitive matches ahead of the year’s first grand slam.