British qualifier Marcus Willis vows to make grand slams the norm after life-changing showdown with Federer

Ross McLean
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Willis is set to pocket £50,000 from his Wimbledon exploits this year (Source: Getty)

British wildcard Marcus Willis has vowed not to be a one-hit wonder after his life-changing stint at Wimbledon was brought to an abrupt end by seven-time champion Roger Federer amid a near-carnival atmosphere on Centre Court.

World No772 Willis, who came through six rounds of qualifying before producing a gigantic first-round shock by beating Ricardas Berankis of Lithuania on Monday, was dispatched 6-0, 6-3, 6-4 by third seed Federer.

The 25-year-old could rise around 350 places when the global rankings are updated after the championships, while Willis – who charges £30 an hour as a coach at Warwick Boat Club – will pocket £50,000 in prize money.

Willis only resurrected his tennis career after his girlfriend dissuaded him from exploring employment opportunities in America, and now the Slough-born left-hander has developed a taste for the limelight.

“I’m not here for the money,” said Willis. “It’s an added bonus. It’s great. I can clear my debts but I love competing and playing tennis.

“This is where I want to play tennis, I’m good enough. I have a lot to work on and a lot to improve on. That’s exciting for me If I’m playing like this. If I have a lot to work on and improve, then it can be exciting.

“This whole few weeks has been a blur. I did look up twice [today] as I bounced the ball and saw Roger Federer and think ‘oh I haven’t seen this before’. It was surreal.

“I wasn’t expect it this year. Three years ago, I was working ridiculously hard. I was surprised the results weren’t coming and let my head drop. Now it’s coming.”

Willis appeared determined to enjoy the match of his life, even during a first set which Federer won 6-0, while the Centre Court crowd erupted when he won his first game of the match in the second.

But 17-time grand slam winner Federer’s enduring class told and could face another Briton in round three if Dan Evans overcomes Alexandr Dolgopolov of Ukraine. The duo were locked at 6-6 in the first set when rain intervened.

British No1 Johanna Konta, meanwhile, recorded her first ever singles match victory at Wimbledon after dispatching world No36 Monica Puig of Puerto Rica 6-1, 7-5 in a truncated clash due to the inclement weather. She will now face Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard in round two.

Konta, ranked No19, is the first British female to break into the top 20 since Jo Durie in 1983, and for this year’s championship has access to the prestigious lady member’s locker room at Wimbledon, not that the 25-year-old is overawed.

“It’s not like you’ve gone from economy to first class. We’re talking kind of business to first class. You can’t really tell the difference. It’s just quieter in the first-class cabin,” said Konta.

British No2 Heather Watson will resume her match with Germany’s Annika Beck today with both players having netted a set each.