British qualifier Marcus Willis said playing former world number one and 17-time Grand Slam winner Roger Federer at Wimbledon was “like a fairytale”.
Willis, ranked 772nd in the world and the British number 23, faced off against the Swiss master on Centre Court after coming through six rounds of qualifying.
He was beaten in straight sets 6-0, 6-3, 6-4, and lost the first seven games as his dream threatened to turn into a nightmare.
Despite his poor start, Willis was happy with the way he played.
“I thought I played OK,” he said after the match. “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.”
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He added that the whole experience was like a dream come true.
“It’s like a fairytale. I had a plan and believed, rightly or wrongly, I could win,” said Willis. “It was amazing, I wasn’t really that nervous – it was just awesome.”
Willis will rise around 350 places in the rankings following his run into the second round, and said he was little overwhelmed at the end.
“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 said.