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Marcus Willis out to do an Iceland on Federer at Wimbledon

Minnows' success against England at Euro 2016 has British underdog fired up for crack at ice cool Swiss

By Paul Newman

Whatever happens when Marcus Willis takes on Roger Federer here - and given the difference of 769 places in their world ranking there can surely be only one outcome - the 25-year-old will hope that he can follow in the footsteps of one of his best friends... and Iceland.

Dan Evans, who will also be playing in the second round after his victory over Jan-Lennard Struff earned a meeting with Alexandr Dolgopolov, was the world No. 763 going into Wimbledon last year. The 26-year-old from Birmingham is now the world No. 91 after 12 months of hard work.

"It's possible," Willis said when asked whether he could follow Evans' example.

"I have got a lot of improving to do still. It's not going to be easy. It's easy now because everyone is loving it at Wimbledon. I have to step away from here and I have got to improve. I have got to keep my head down and work. The moment I start getting complacent is the moment that I stay 772 in the world."

Asked if he thought Iceland's victory over England in Euro 2016 gave him any reason for encouragement against Federer, Willis said: "I guess so. He is obviously heavy favourite and I'm not. But it's a tennis match, the balls are round and I'm going to go out there and try to do a job."

He added: "I have always believed that my level has been good - though this good I don't know. That's the thing: you get there and you reset your goals. The guys are beatable. I have proved that. I have won seven matches in a row now against varied opponents. They were all good players.

"I have to keep training very hard. I have a level of tennis and I need to do it week in, week out. I need to stay physically fit and stay in a good head space. As long as I am happy and enjoying tennis that is the main thing."

Willis won three matches in a pre-qualifying competition for British players which earned him a wild card into last week's qualifying event at Roehampton, where he won three more rounds to book his place in the main draw. Having beaten Ricardas Berankis, the world No. 54, in his first match at a Grand Slam tournament, Willis now takes on Federer, seven times a champion here and arguably the greatest player in tennis history.

"If my mind is as good as it has been I will play good tennis," Willis said as he looked forward to taking on the world No. 3.

"I am very aware it is not just another match but I have to treat it that way. I can't be over-awed by the occasion."

After a good night's sleep back at his parents' home - he chose to go there rather than attempt to re-book himself into the hotel where he has already checked himself out several times - Willis was ready to prepare for his next match in the same way that he would against any other opponent.

Willis said he had watched Federer enough on television so that he did not need to watch any tapes of the Swiss, but added: "There will be specifics at the moment, things he's doing better or worse than he normally is, but my coach will be looking at that."

Another task for Willis was to find out how many tickets he could get for family and friends and how many places he would have available in his player box.

His noisy group of supporters made their presence felt on Monday with their chanting, not to mention their bizarre ritual of holding shoes aloft.

Andy Murray left Willis a voicemail message on Monday evening, giving his congratulations and saying that he had watched the last two sets.

The £50,000 that Willis has earned for reaching the second round almost doubles his career earnings.

Belfast Telegraph

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