Federer plays cameo role to end Willis fairytale

Wed Jun 29, 2016 3:22pm EDT
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By Martyn Herman

LONDON (Reuters) - Few players have reduced the great Roger Federer to a role as secondary attraction on Wimbledon's Centre Court but for one hour and 25 minutes on Wednesday he had just a walk-on part in the Marcus Willis fairytale.

The seven-times champion enjoys too much deep-rooted affection at the All England Club to be cast as a real pantomime villain, but for once the cheers were all behind the 25-year-old local hero on the other side of the net.

Federer's 81st Wimbledon match, of course, ended in victory.

Even the most over-egged Hollywood script could not have had him losing to world number 772 Willis, whose transformation from a 30 pounds ($40.30) an hour tennis coach to Wimbledon sensation has captured the imagination of the sporting world.

But the swaggering Swiss was at least made to break sweat under the closed roof before claiming a 6-0 6-3 6-4 victory.

Willis had his photo taken with Federer, 34, before the warm-up and could hardly stop grinning.

He even celebrated a practise serve with a raised fist as his friends went through their song-list at court side.

But when Willis lost the opening set in 25 minutes without managing a game you feared the worst.   Continued...

Britain Tennis - Wimbledon - All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club, Wimbledon, England - 29/6/16 Great Britain's Marcus Willis waves to the crowd after losing his match against Switzerland's Roger Federer REUTERS/Tony O'Brien