London: Roger Federer hailed Marcus Willis as one of the great Wimbledon fairytales after the British qualifier set up a dream clash with the seven-time champion.

Roger Federer
Roger Federer

Willis is ranked 772 in the world and just months ago the 25-year-old, who works as a coach to amateur players, was considering calling time on a professional career that appeared to be going nowhere.

But, persuaded to give tennis one last shot by his new girlfriend, Willis battled through to the main draw at Wimbledon via a series of qualifying matches before claiming a stunning first round win over world number 54 Ricardas Berankis on Monday.

Great Britain's Marcus Willis celebrates his first round victory against Ricardas Berankis with his mother on Monday. Pic/Getty Images
Great Britain's Marcus Willis celebrates his first round victory against Ricardas Berankis with his mother on Monday. Pic/Getty Images

Asked if he had been the following the story of Willis, who set up a crowd-sourcing website in a bid to fund his career, the 17-time Grand Slam champion admitted he was as spellbound as the rest of the All England Club.

"Yes I have followed it actually before I even saw him in my section of the draw. It's one of the best stories in a long time in our sport," Federer said.

"This is the kind of story we need. I'm very excited to be playing him actually. It's not something I get to do very often."