Wimbledon: World No 772 Marcus Willis impresses Roger Federer
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.
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
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."
London: The mum of Britain's Wimbledon hero Marcus Willis has hailed her son as the Jamie Vardy of tennis and hopes he inspires other players never to give up.
"I always told him, 'I think you can do it' and now he's a bit older he's got the break he needed — he's like the Jamie Vardy of tennis isn't he? He certainly likes a party," Cathy told Press Association Sport.