Federer beats British qualifier Willis in straight sets
LONDON — Roger Federer was not about to let this feel-good story spoil his own Wimbledon.
The seven-time champion — perhaps the greatest player of all time — showed little mercy Wednesday against Marcus Willis, a 772nd-ranked British qualifier who had never won a tour-level match until this week and has captivated the home nation with his improbable run.
Putting aside sentimentality and ignoring the carnival-like atmosphere, Federer won the first seven games and sailed to a 6-0, 6-3, 6-4 victory in a second-round match played under the Centre Court roof on another rainy day at the All England Club.
While Willis savored the moment — smiling, laughing and playing to the raucous crowd throughout the match — there was never much doubt about the outcome.
Willis, a 25-year-old lefthander, was the lowest-ranked qualifier to reach the second round of a Grand Slam since 1988. He has been giving tennis lessons at a club in central England, and he was only recently talked out of giving up on his goal of making it on the pro tour by his girlfriend.
Willis made the most of his time on the most famous stage in the sport. He celebrated winners by spreading his arms wide, holding up a fist or gesturing to his friends and family.
Willis did give Federer some trouble with his unorthodox game, using a single-handed backhand slice, angled drop shots and lobs. But Federer never got rattled and played his usual grass-court game.
Willis never broke Federer, though he did have two break points. Federer converted five of his 12 break point chances.
Federer enjoyed the moment, too, letting Willis walk onto the court ahead of him, giving him a warm pat and embrace at the net at the end the match, and walking off side-by-side with him.
Earlier, two-time defending champion Novak Djokovic won his 30th straight match at a major tournament, sweeping into the third round with a clinical 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (5) victory over Adrian Mannarino.
The win gave Djokovic sole ownership of third place on the all-time list for most consecutive victories in Grand Slam play. Only Rod Laver with 31 and Don Budge with 37 have won more in a row.
Asked whether he was surprised to reach the 30-match mark, Djokovic said: “No, not so much, because I do have lots of expectations for myself.”
“But I’m very grateful obviously for the fact I’m able to play on such a high level consistently in the Grand Slam tournaments that matter the most in our sport,” he added. “Definitely that is a stat that I’m very proud of.”
Djokovic hasn’t lost a Grand Slam match since falling to Stan Wawrinka in the 2015 French Open final. He hasn’t dropped a set so far this week as he bids for a fourth Wimbledon title, fifth straight Grand Slam championship and 13th major overall.
For two sets and most of the third, Djokovic had little trouble against the 55th-ranked Mannarino, a French lefthander playing on his 28th birthday.
But the match came to life with Djokovic serving for the match at 5-4. He served two double-faults, his seventh and eighth of the match, and was broken for the first time.
Then, in the tiebreaker, Djokovic moved out to a 5-2 lead after a pair of cross-court winners. Two points later, Mannarino played a soft drop shot. Djokovic raced forward and slipped and fell onto his back, his racket flying, as he knocked the ball into the net.
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