Bri­ton shocks Wim­ble­don – and it’s Fed­erer next

She per­suaded me not to re­tire early, says player ranked 772nd now fac­ing tie against Roger Fed­erer

The Daily Telegraph - - Front Page - By Lexi Fin­ni­gan

Mar­cus Willis, ranked 772nd in the world, de­lighted Bri­tish ten­nis fans on the first day of Wim­ble­don as he top­pled Lithua­nia’s Ri­car­das Ber­ankis, who is po­si­tioned 718 places above him, in straight sets to se­cure a sec­ond-round clash against Roger Fed­erer.

FIVE months ago Mar­cus Willis had given up on his ten­nis-play­ing ca­reer and was mak­ing plans to move to the US to start a coach­ing job.

But af­ter a se­ries of lucky co­in­ci­dences the player ranked 772nd in the world yes­ter­day saw his prize money for the year go from just £220 to £50,000.

The 25-year-old wild card pulled off one of the big­gest up­sets in Wim­ble­don his­tory by beat­ing Lithua­nian Ri­car­das Ber­ankis – ranked 54 – in straight sets

Willis, who usu­ally coaches am­a­teurs, will now be plunged into the spotlight of a cen­tre court tie against Roger Fed­erer.

Willis, from Slough, Berks, only res­ur­rected his ca­reer af­ter his new girl­friend per­suaded him to give the sport one last chance.

An­other piece of luck saw Willis, who still lives with his par­ents and has credit cards to pay, claim his spot at the tour­na­ment af­ter an­other player could not get back to the UK in time to regis­ter.

Speak­ing af­ter the match, he said: “I had op­tions in Philadel­phia. Noth­ing was dead set. But, yeah, it was an op­tion I had. Don’t know if I would have gone or not.

“But, yeah, I met the girl. She told me not to, so I didn’t. Do what I’m told.”

He added: “More than I’ve earned this year. It’s amaz­ing. It’s lovely.”

Willis thanked his friends from Lough­bor­ough Uni­ver­sity for cheer­ing him on from the stands and said he would cel­e­brate with a “nice meal” and an early night.

His girl­friend, den­tal sur­geon Jen­nifer Bate, 30, had not ex­pected to make it to the match, but she took her seat just in time af­ter her work appointments were can­celled at the last minute.

She said: “I was meant to be at work today. Last week, the suc­tion had been a bit dodgy so we cleaned it all out and thought it would be fine. I got in this morning and we man­aged to do the first pa­tient, but it wasn’t work­ing that well, and then it stopped work­ing.

“I got so stressed. I’d come to work and I was miss­ing the game. I called my boss to ask what to do and he said we would have to get the en­gi­neer in. So we had to can­cel all the pa­tients for the af­ter­noon.

“I wasn’t even go­ing to be here. I was not ex­pect­ing this – that was in­cred­i­ble ten­nis.”

Ms Bate said it was “in­stant at­trac­tion” when the pair met at an El­lie Gould­ing con­cert, and added: “It’s been quite in­tense, trav­el­ling and watch­ing matches, but we’re crazy about each other.”

She said: “A week af­ter I met him he said he was go­ing to Amer­ica and he’d given up on ten­nis. My brother loves ten­nis and said to me ‘this guy is a big deal’ and so I told him we be­lieved in him, give it a shot, it’s worth it – and he did. “He wants it so much and has worked re­ally hard for this.” Af­ter his win, Mar­cus ran over to his girl­friend and hugged and kissed her be­fore jump­ing into the arms of his chant­ing friends.

She said: “He just said to me ‘I love you’.”

Ms Bate said she be­lieved she would have many more op­por­tu­ni­ties to watch Willis. She said: “He’s got plenty more in him.”

‘It’s been quite in­tense, trav­el­ling and watch­ing matches, but we’re crazy about each other’

Girl­friend Jen­nifer Bate, below, and, right, with shock win­ner Mar­cus Willis

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