by Kevin Craig
Roger Federer ended the Cinderella run of Marcus Willis on Wednesday at Wimbledon as the No. 3 player in the world defeated the No. 772 player in the world, 6-0, 6-3, 6-4.
Willis, the Brit who was extremely close to pulling the plug on his professional tennis career, decided to make a run at his dream one more time and was successful, winning a wild card tournament to earn entry into the qualifying tournament at Wimbledon, where he was able to beat three top-quality players, one of which was ranked inside the Top 100, to earn a spot in the main draw.
“This story is gold. I hope the press respects his situation. It’s easy now to use it, chew it up, and then throw it all away. He’s got a life and career after this,” said Federer of Willis’ story.
A match with Federer on Centre Court inspired Willis to confidently breeze through his first round match in straight sets, but the 17-time major champion was able to quickly stomp out any possibility of Willis’ run continuing, racing out to a quick one set advantage in less than half an hour.
Willis provided the crowd with something to cheer for early in the second set as he got on the scoreboard for the first time to get to 1-1. The 25-year old played Federer tight throughout the set, but was unable to create any chances on the serve of the Suisse, winning just four points in four return games. Because of the inability to create chances on the return, one poor service game from Willis at 2-3 was the turning point in the set, as Federer converted on his third break point of the game to grab a 4-2 lead, before eventually closing out the set.
The British crowd continued their massive support of Willis in the third set, and he did not disappoint. The Brit looked like he belonged on the biggest stage in tennis as he battled toe-to-toe with arguably the greatest player of all time, serving confidently and beginning to create chances on return. Willis saw just his second break point of the match at 3-2 in the third set, but it was staved off by the veteran, propelling him to break at love just three games later before closing out the straight sets win.
“It’s not easy for him to come out there and play a decent match. There’s a lot of pressure on him as well. I thought he handled it great,” said Federer, complimenting Willis’ performance.
Sure, Willis didn’t win the match, but he earned something so much more important than that. He won the respect of millions of tennis fans around the world, especially those in his own country, who surely hope that he will change his plans and continue his professional tennis career.
“It was all just a blur. It was amazing…I love every bit of it,” said Willis. “The whole experience was incredible.”
After the match had ended, Federer stayed by his chair, allowing Willis to be the one who walked out to the middle of the court to acknowledge the applauding fans giving him a standing ovation, something he may never be able to do on that big of a stage again.
“It was his moment. I wanted him to have a great time,” said Federer.
Federer will take on the winner of Dan Evans, another Brit, or Alex Dolgopolov in the third round.