Know Marcus Willis, the tennis player whose fairytale ended as Roger Federer beat the qualifier in 3 sets
Roger Federer was not about to let this feel-good story spoil his own Wimbledon. The seven-time champion - perhaps the greatest player of all time - showed little mercy Wednesday against Marcus Willis, a 772nd-ranked British qualifier who had never won a tour-level match until this week and has captivated the home nation with his improbable run. (Image Source: AP)
Roger Federer was not about to let this feel-good story spoil his own Wimbledon. The seven-time champion - perhaps the greatest player of all time - showed little mercy Wednesday against Marcus Willis, a 772nd-ranked British qualifier who had never won a tour-level match until this week and has captivated the home nation with his improbable run. Putting aside sentimentality and ignoring the carnival-like atmosphere, Federer won the first seven games and sailed to a 6-0, 6-3, 6-4 victory in a second-round match played under the Centre Court roof on another rainy day at the All England Club. ''It was very refreshing to play against an opponent like this,'' Federer said. ''I always knew it was going to be a completely different match than everything that I've played before here at Wimbledon.'' He compared it to the time he walked out to play Pete Sampras on Centre Court in 2001. ''`I remember how nervous I was and how big a deal it was,'' Federer said. ''You had nothing to lose and you could just go out there and enjoy yourself. Marcus did that wonderfully.'' (Image Source: AP)
While Willis savored the moment - smiling, laughing and playing to the raucous crowd throughout the match - there was never much doubt about the outcome. ''I was enjoying it out there,'' Willis said. ''If I'm playing well and competing with Roger Federer for a couple of sets, I'm doing the right things. I've still got a lot to learn, a lot of improving to do.'' ''It sounds funny,'' he added, ''but I'm disappointed to lose. I went out there trying to win.''
Willis, a 25-year-old lefthander, was the lowest-ranked qualifier to reach the second round of a Grand Slam since 1988. He has been giving tennis lessons at a club in central England, and he was only recently talked out of giving up on his goal of making it on the pro tour by his girlfriend. Willis made the most of his time on the most famous stage in the sport. He celebrated winners by spreading his arms wide, holding up a fist or gesturing to his friends and family. Willis did give Federer some trouble with his unorthodox game, using a single-handed backhand slice, angled drop shots and lobs. But Federer never got rattled and played his usual grass-court game. Willis never broke Federer, though he did have two break points. Federer converted five of his 12 break point chances.
Federer enjoyed the moment, too, letting Willis walk onto the court ahead of him, giving him a warm pat and embrace at the net at the end of the match, and walking off side-by-side with him. ''As I was playing, I was thinking about the match,'' Federer said. ''I was thinking, `This is definitely one of the matches I'll remember,' because I start forgetting some. I'll remember most of the Centre Court matches here at Wimbledon, but this one will stand out because it's that special and probably not going to happen again for me to play against a guy 770 in the world.''
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