Wimbledon 2016: Marcus Willis says playing Roger Federer was 'like a fairytale'
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British qualifier Marcus Willis has described playing 17-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer on Centre Court as "incredible" and a "fairytale".
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 by the third seed in round two.
The Englishman, 25, said: "It's like a fairytale. I had a plan and believed, rightly or wrongly, I could win.
"It was amazing, I wasn't really that nervous - it was just awesome."
Willis was in danger of suffering a humiliating defeat when he lost the first seven games, but he gathered himself sufficiently to test Federer.
The British number 23 from Wokingham admitted he was capable of playing better and did not deserve to lose the first set 6-0.
"I thought I played OK," he said. "I was in games, I just didn't get on the board.
"He makes you play. He's class, put me under the cosh and came out firing.
"I did enjoy myself even though I was getting duffed up. I loved every bit of it, though not the duffing bit. I loved getting stuck in, fighting hard.
"The plan was to get him moving, hit to his backhand but he's not the best player of all time for no reason.
"He's just ridiculous. The big points he played ridiculously well. It wasn't like he was flashy. We all know he can be flashy, but he was just rock solid."
Willis 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.
He is also set to rise to around 416 in the world when the new rankings are confirmed after Wimbledon.
The Briton admitted he nearly cried as he walked off Centre at the end of the match and said drinking a bottle of beer in the locker room after the match tasted "incredible".
"I don't know if I'm ever going to beat this, as a qualifier and pre-qualifier. I was a bit emotional at the end," he added.
Willis said he might play in a Coventry League match on Thursday in what he wryly described as a "must-win" match and "kind of a big deal".
"I have to rest my body," he said. "I might play if I'm feeling OK."
|Andrew Castle, former British number one and BBC Sport commentator:|
|"In the old days - I'm talking 25 or 30 years ago - you had lots of people who had different styles of game and brought their character to the court. Nowadays, with the level of professionalism and physicality, that has gone. Marcus was a breath of fresh air.|
|"I'm glad the match was on when the kids were home from school to see tennis is not all just po-faced professionalism - you're allowed to smile and have a good time.|
|"There's a bit of the everyman about Marcus. He's clearly not a machine, he is flesh and blood and the emotion on the face. If that inspires people then great."|
Federer thought the Englishman played "very well", adding: "As I was playing, I was thinking about the match. I was thinking, 'This is definitely one of the matches I'll remember'."
The Swiss, 34, also expressed a wish that Willis is given time and space to develop his career after such an unexpected breakthrough.
"I said a few days ago, this story is gold," said Federer. "I just hope the press respects his situation.
"It's easy now to just use it, chew it up and then throw it all away. He's got a life after this. He's got a career after this. He definitely made the most of it. He enjoyed it."
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