Murray backed to shine at Wimbledon
Ross Hutchins is tipping Andy Murray to hold off the challenges of Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal to retain his Wimbledon crown.
Hutchins, off the court this week as he plays the role of tournament director at Queen's, believes his friend can repeat last year's breakthrough success on grass despite his struggles since.
The nation breathed a huge sigh of relief when Murray beat Djokovic in the final - becoming the first British winner in 77 years - and Hutchins is confident the player who was one of the best men at his wedding can ride the wave of goodwill which has followed.
"You'd have to put him as one of the top three favourites along with Rafa and Novak because they've been doing it more regularly than Roger (Federer) recently," Hutchins told ESPN from his Queen's office last week.
"Then you've got really big hitters like (Tomas) Berdych, (Jo-Wilfried) Tsonga, (Juan Martin) Del Potro, (Milos) Raonic. These guys are dangerous but over five sets normally those top three guys are able to find something extra to win."
Hutchins, who returned to the circuit in December following his battle with cancer, says he's noticed tennis blossom nationally following Murray's magic moment.
"Since Wimbledon there's been a lot more hype around the sport in the country and rightly so, plus there is a lot more love for Andy and people realising what a superb player he is," said the 29-year-old.
Hutchins has had a tumultuous year, hearing his cancer was in remission weeks after Murray's triumph, returning to the sporting arena he adores and getting engaged. His next challenge is to make Queen's is roaring success again after the tournament overtook Swedish rival Bastad - which had reigned for 11 years - as the best ATP 250 event on the circuit last year.
"We [tennis players] give ourselves goals and right now, this week, my goal is to do a great job here, to challenge myself and to run a very successful event," said Hutchins, who in 2007 won his first tour match on the iconic Queen's centre court.
"It does cross my mind sitting here, whether I enjoy it or not, whether I fancy this life after tennis. It's on every player's mind in the sport where your career path has to lead somewhere else in the mid-30s. Often the body breaks down before you're disinterested, but that's the way the sport is. It's not a sport where you can go on until you're 60 years old.
"But ultimately right now this is a 30-day role I'm really enjoying and it's a great opportunity for me to test my skills out and try and use all the experience I've had from playing the last seven years on tour."
A booming Queen's will lead Hutchins nicely into the short grass court season, where he and partner Colin Fleming will be aiming high at Eastbourne, then Wimbledon.
"It's Colin's best surface by a long way and I try and ride his wave of class on grass, plus I play pretty well on it myself compared to other surfaces," said Hutchins.
The British duo have already reached a final this season in Munich and Hutchins anticipates bigger things to come in 2014.
"My level's increased over the year and hopefully we can peak at Eastbourne next week and then at Wimbledon."