Federer beats British qualifier Willis – report & highlights

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Wimbledon on the BBC
Venue: All England Club Dates: 27 June-10 July
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British qualifier Marcus Willis’ remarkable Wimbledon run came to an end with defeat by seven-time champion Roger Federer on Centre Court.

Willis, the world number 772 who came through six rounds of qualifying and the first-round proper, was beaten 6-0 6-3 6-4 in round two.

Third seed Federer could play another Briton next as he awaits either Dan Evans or Ukraine’s Alexandr Dolgopolov.

Willis, 25, will take home £50,000 as reward for making the second round.

He had previously earned far more as a tennis coach than player this year, with around £220 in prize money to his name before a spectacular upturn in fortunes over the last two weeks.

The British number 23 from Wokingham is also set to rise to around 416 in the world when the new rankings are confirmed after Wimbledon.

‘I’ve earned myself a beer now!’

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Willis was in danger of suffering a humiliating defeat when he lost the first seven games, but he gathered himself sufficiently to test Federer.

Marcus Willis: “It is daunting. It is tough. I was playing alright at first, I settled into the match. I was enjoying it out there. If I was playing well and competing with Roger for a couple of sets I was doing well.

“I need to keep my head down. I am disappointed to lose. I didn’t play as well as I could but I can hold my head high. I have had a fantastic couple of weeks. I will keep going and do what I have been doing. There is life after Wimbledon and I want more experiences like this.

“I’ve earned myself a beer now!”

Roger Federer: “It was very different. Marcus brought some unbelievable energy to the court with his play, the fans and his enthusiasm as well.”

Willis revels in atmosphere

Britain’s newest tennis star walked on to court smiling and waving to his vociferous band of friends and family, who were also enjoying the elevated status of Centre Court and its famous player box.

The Briton had just one tour-level win to his name, over world number 53 Ricardis Berankis in the first round.

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He betrayed his nerves in the warm-up, raising his arms in celebration after finally landing a serve, and the match had the air of an exhibition rather than a competitive contest for the most part.

That did not seem to bother those on Centre Court, with Federer for once playing second fiddle to his opponent in terms of the crowd’s affections.

Federer must also have found Willis’ unusual mix of pace, spin and volleying rather disorientating – but the 17-time Grand Slam champion did not take long to adjust.

One beautiful lob gave Willis – and the crowd – reason to celebrate but otherwise it was one-way traffic as Federer ruthlessly exposed his lack of movement on his way to a 6-0 set.

Federer ends fairytale run

Willis' girlfriend Jennifer Bate (left)

Willis did not see a game point until the 22nd minute, snatching at a forehand, and when Federer racked up a seventh straight game it looked as though winning a single game might be beyond the Englishman.

It was to Willis’ credit that he grabbed a foothold in the match, spreading his arms in relief and drawing a standing ovation after finally getting on the board with a forehand winner in the 30th minute.

From then on he would at least keep Federer honest, with the Swiss taking the second set with a solitary break for 4-2 and having to wait until 4-4 to make the breakthrough in the third.

“Shoes off, if you love Willis!” came the now familiar chant from his supporters as Willis made a match of it, all the while giving as much back to those supporting him.

His incredible run finally came to an end after one hour and 24 minutes, with Federer leaving the Centre Court stage to Willis, who soaked it in before heading back to reality and his next appointment – a club match in Coventry.

Analysis

John McEnroe, three-time Wimbledon champion: “These days it’s more and more about movement and athleticism. He will have to be able to move on a slower hard court but I’d say it should be easy inspiration to get as fit as possible.”

Tim Henman, four-time Wimbledon semi-finalist: “This was his eighth match. Hopefully he will go away and decompress and soak up the last 10 or 12 days of action and then think about how he will move forward.

“He needs to improve his forehand but he needs to keep working at his strengths. He has a good leftie serve. He has a lot of challenges ahead but hopefully he will continue to embrace them.”

Roger Federer beats Marcus Willis at Wimbledon

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