LONDON (Reuters) – World number 772 Marcus Willis proved the unlikeliest of home Wimbledon heroes on Monday, sealing a fairytale 6-3 6-3 6-4 victory over Ricardas Berankis, ranked more than 700 places up above him.
Cheered on by a packed and rowdy crowd desperate for a British win on day one at the tournament, the Briton showed all the guts and guile he needed to get through two rounds of qualifying, as well as the coaching he does to pay the bills.
Just winning the first-round match has guaranteed 25-year-old Willis 50,000 pounds ($66,000), so it was no surprise he fist-pumped and saluted every winner against the world number 54 from Lithuania like he was lifting the trophy on the final Sunday.
He saved five break points in the eighth game of the final set before serving it out and he was greeted by near delirium on Court 17 before being swallowed up by the hugs of friends and family as he leant over the barriers.
(Reporting by Alison Williams, editing by Ed Osmond)