Wimbledon 2016: Marcus Willis stuns Ricardas Berankis, plays Federer next
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|Venue: All-England Club Dates: 27 June-10 July|
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British qualifier Marcus Willis - ranked 772 in the world - caused a huge upset with victory over world number 54 Ricardas Berankis at Wimbledon.
Roared on by a vocal pocket of supporters on court 17, Willis saw off Lithuania's Berankis 6-3 6-3 6-4.
Willis, who came through six rounds of qualifying to earn his debut at the All England Club, will next face seven-time champion Roger Federer in round two.
The 25-year-old from Slough guarantees himself £50,000 in prize money.
"It's gotten a little bit out of hand," he said afterwards. "I'm enjoying it. Yeah, keep it rolling."
On an opening day when most of his compatriots struggled, it was the unlikely figure of Willis who got the first British win on the board.
Willis had won just £220 in prize money in 2016 before Wimbledon, and was set to give up playing professionally to coach in the USA earlier this year before his girlfriend persuaded him otherwise.
"I've been coaching at the Warwick Boat Club," he explained. "I had options in Philadelphia. Nothing was dead set. But I met the girl, she told me not to, so I didn't. I do what I'm told."
To come through three rounds of pre-qualifying and three rounds of qualifying was remarkable in itself, but events on court 17 were simply extraordinary.
Willis saved 19 of 20 break points and broke the Berankis serve five times, leaving the 26-year-old Lithuanian looking understandably forlorn by the closing stages.
The Briton was smiling broadly from the moment he walked on to court, punching his fist and nodding along with the singing from his supporters before a ball had been struck, and he carried that attitude into the match.
A delicate lob set up an immediate break point and Berankis duly double-faulted to hand the Briton an early advantage that would give him the set.
Willis kept Berankis guessing with clever use of slice, some fine passing shots and nerveless serving under pressure, and the shock was very much on when he broke to love for a 3-1 lead in the second set.
A bemused Berankis finally converted his 12th break point in the following game but Willis responded by breaking to love on his way to clinching a two-set lead.
When the Briton made a spectacular lunging backhand volley to save break point early in the third set, Berankis looked like a man who knew it was not to be his day.
The decisive moment came in game five when Willis thumped a forehand winner down the line to break serve for the fifth time, and he then came back from 0-40 down in game eight to make it 5-3.
With a little under two hours played Willis got the chance to serve for the win, and two magical passes propelled him to match point, which he converted with a big serve and a huge roar.
Asked about the prospect of playing Federer on Wednesday, Willis said: "Obviously it's an amazing dream come true. I get to play on a stadium court. This is what I dreamed of when I was younger.
"I'm going to go out there and try to win the tennis match. I probably won't. I might not. But I'm going to give everything, as I have the last seven matches."
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