Marcus Willis will have that beer.
He’s earned it.
Capturing seven games in his second round match against Roger Federer he surely deserves one.
The man owes it all to a girl—a girl he met this February, a dentist named Jennifer Bates.
He fell in love, turned himself around and found himself in round two of this year’s Wimbledon earning himself 50,000 pounds.
Brexit might have taken its toll on the UK’s currency but that could not dim the
£30-an-hour part-time Wokingham tennis coach’s joy.
Beating Ricardas Berankis, ranked 54, in the first round was unexpected.
But qualifying for Wimbledon proper required him to win six gruelling matches.
As Goran Ivanisevic, his idol, put it:
“I love this story. This is great.
Pre-qualifying, then qualifiers, winning the first round against a not easy player. Berankis can play.
It’s just great. Perfect. He will go on Centre Court or Court One.
The biggest match of his life and he has won already. For him he is a winner. He is the story of Wimbledon and it cannot get better than this.
He cannot beat Roger Federer, no chance but he does not care. He has won already seven matches and he won Wimbledon for him. This is it.
He will go on Centre or Court One. He is the happiest man, whether he comes to the match sober or drunk it doesn’t make any difference.
Everyone will love him and support him and Roger will be nice to him.
Eventually maybe not but it’s going to be great. I think he should quit after this. Retire. Because this is it.
It does not get better than this. Great, well done, I’m really so happy for the guy.”
Roger Federer had nothing but respect for Willis. He treated him as a top-50 player because “because that’s the level he was playing at”.
Willis sounded both disappointed and upbeat after his loss.
“It sounds funny, but I’m disappointed to lose. I went out there trying to win.
I’ve had a fantastic few weeks, and this has been great, but there’s life after Wimbledon, and I want more. More experiences like this. I have to knuckle down and work harder.
I’m absolutely exhausted. I might wait and calm down. But I’ve earned myself a beer, I think.
I haven’t thought (about marrying Jennifer) , to be honest. This whole few weeks have been a bit of a blur. But I do like her quite a bit.
Amazing. It’s not my standard Wednesday.”
Has he seen Wimbledon, the movie?
“I haven’t. People are telling me about it, but I’ve never seen it, really. I’m not a massive film watcher. I’m quite fidgety. I’m more of a doer than a watcher.”
Andy Murray, his fellow countryman, batted for Willis insisting that journeymen deserved more money.
“The first thing is we need to improve the prize money at Futures level. I think it’s stayed the same since the 1980s. The cost of everything has gone up massively since then so it’s impossible to stay at that level for more than a couple of years.
Someone like Marcus, if he had lost in the pre-qualifying at Wimbledon, we wouldn’t have this unbelievable story and he might not be coming back to play in January. You never know. There has to be more money at the bottom of the game.
It’s a difficult one.Because now players are breaking through later than they ever were before so they are obviously finding ways to hang around. A lot of the guys play club tennis to try to make some extra money, which helps. We don’t have that in this country. You can travel to Europe and do that. In Spain they have a few more money tournaments.”
Willis is ranked 772 in the world.
But for the match against Federer he dressed up wearing not just Roger’s classic white Nike bandana headband but an R.F.-branded shirt as well.
At the end of the match, he was not just another pretender but Marcus Willis, a 25-year-old from Slough, able to trade blows with the best in the business.
For most people, the story will be about Marcus’ two magical weeks at Wimbledon.
But Willis knows better.
It started earlier, much earlier, with a girl named Jennifer.
Roger Federer couldn’t do it.
Rafael Nadal couldn’t either.
But Novak Djokovic has.
The Serb claimed his first French Open title—his 12th Slam—on his 12th attempt to round off a superb year beginning with Wimbledon 2015, thus holding all four titles at the same time.
It’s a supreme achievement from a supreme athlete.
Andy Murray surpassed himself this year making his first French Open final.
But nothing could stop the incorrigible Nole from getting what he richly deserves—a seat at the pantheon of greats.
Federer has 17, Nadal has 14 and now the Djoker has 12.
Is this the best generation of tennis greats ever?
It sure seems like it.
Is it the beginning of the end for Serena Williams?
Three shots at glory—a 22nd Slam—all gone a-begging.
The US Open last year would have made it a genuine Grand Slam—all four big guns in a calendar year.
It was not to be.
And the next two Slam finals have only seen Serena fall by the wayside to her younger opponents—German Angelique Kerber and Spaniard Garbine Muguruza.
American tennis is on the wane and Serena—their last bastion—is losing her glitter too.
Yes, Serena is not getting any younger. She’s 34—and she’s treading the path that Roger Federer has over the last four years—still competitive but not a real contender.
At least, Federer had the likes of Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Stanislas Wawrinka to reckon with.
Williams has no such excuse. She’s still No.1 and she’s expected to dominate her younger opponents.
Is it a mental thing? Is there some fragility , some frailty, not apparent earlier?
It would appear so—every opponent now has the belief that on their day, they can bring the 21-time champion to ground level from her previous stratospheric heights.
Are we being too harsh, too critical already?
Most top 10 women players would give an arm and a limb to have the same kind of results Serena has achieved in the past three Slams.
Yes, Serena’s vulnerable but there’s also a possibility that she can snatch a bigger slice of history once Wimbledon begins in another three weeks.
Lush green grass will tell.
Marin Cilic is in the semis of the US Open once more.
Last year, he won his maiden Slam knocking out Asian hope Kei Nishikori in the process under the watchful eye and tutelage of his countryman Goran Ivanisevic.
Tennis fans all remember Goran not just for his histrionics on court, his big booming serves but also for the fairy-tale ending to his career where he won his first and only Grand Slam at Wimbledon in 2001 after succumbing at his earlier two final appearances at the sport’s Mecca.
Cilic has been plagued with a shoulder injury this season. He missed out on the Australian Open and has had indifferent results—by his newly exalted standards—losing in the fourth round and quarter-finals at the French Open and Wimbledon respectively.
The Croat has flown under the radar at his Grand Slam homecoming in New York.
It’s always difficult returning from an injury.
No one knows that better than Cilic’s coach, Ivanisevic, who was unseeded at his maiden Grand Slam triumph, only playing with the benefit of a wild card.
But it’s Del Potro, another US Open winner, that similarities can be drawn with.
The 2009 US Open champion first suffered a left wrist injury in 2010.
He returned only after a nine-month break.
He was back to his best only in 2012 ending the year ranked No.7. He returned to the top 5 in 2013.
The recurrence of his wrist injury saw him missing out most of the 2014 season.
He returned briefly in 2015 but withdrew from the Australian Open with the injury flaring up again.
He has been operated since and is now rehabilitating.
Can Marin Cilic break the hoodoo?
Since 2003, except for Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, no US Open champion has returned to claim the title.
The title has not been defended successfully since 2008 when Federer won the last of his US Open titles.
The singletons in the club—in terms of US Open titles in the modern era—include the likes of Arthur Ashe, Stan Smith,Ilie Năstase,Manuel Orantes, Guillermo Vilas,Mats Wilander,Boris Becker,Marat Safin,Lleyton Hewitt, Andy Roddick, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic.
Cilic takes on a formidable foe in Novak in the semis. It could be either Federer or Wawrinka in the final. Interestingly, all the semi-finalists have at least one Slam to their credit. Wawrinka is the only one without a US Open title.
A trivial bit of trivia about Cilic is that he is yet to clinch an ATP 500 or Masters title.
It’s going to be a slug-fest. Sit back and enjoy the fireworks.
Is Stan Wawrinka on the verge of yet another Grand Slam title?
The Swiss No. 2 just gets luckier and luckier.
This time, it’s Andy Murray, his prospective quarter-final opponent, who lost his legs against a fitter, smoother South African Kevin Anderson.
Wawrinka faces a much easier adversary in him.
Roger Federer is expected to be his antagonist in the semis should he get past the latest version of Richard Gasquet as the 17-time-champion quizzically put it.
This semi-final could be anyone’s. I give the edge to the younger man.
Novak Djokovic takes on on last year’s winner Marin Cilic in the other semi-final.
Should Djokovic win, he should be odds-on favourite to clinch another Grand Slam and repeat the kind of success he had in 2011.
Should Cilic win , Wawrinka would have a much better chance of winning the third Slam of his charmed, revived career.
Can he? Will he? The tennis Gods will let us know—very soon indeed.
Every time he makes a Grand Slam final nowadays, his fans go wild with delirium believing that an 18th Grand Slam is inevitable. Yet, the man comes up short. In 2014, it was Djokovic in five sets at Wimbledon.
This year, it was the Serbian again in four sets.
The Swiss last won a Grand Slam in 2012, beating Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray in succession to clinch the title. It was also the year he was last ranked No. 1.
It is this ability to clinch Slams that has eroded over the years. The 17-time-champion no longer can produce the tennis required to beat the rest of the Big Four when it matters, where it matters, in successive best-of-five encounters.
This is unlikely to change as age catches up with one the modern greats of the game.
That is the bad news.
The good news is that he is not the only one suffering a loss in invincibility.
Nadal ceded his domination over the French Open this year losing to Djokovic who in turn surrendered his chance at a Career Slam by losing to Fedex’s fellow countryman Stanislas Wawrinka in the final.
That is the other piece of good news. Novak, if Roger can’t beat you, Wawrinka surely must.
Murray is not quite among the invincibles. Yet, he is a potent force on the comeback trail.
For Roger to win another Slam, the draw must be favorable enough to have him encounter just one of the above three at any stage in the tournament and preferably not the Djoker.
This is the blueprint for (immediately) imminent Grand Slam success for the Original Man.
What he said:
“I am attracted to you, but I don’t like you.”
Andy Murray and Richard Ayoade screened contenders for ‘Andy Murray: The Movie’ in a skit for Stand Up To Cancer, Channel 4’s charity drive. The tennis player was the “executive consultant producer of casting”.
Tim Henman was informed by the Scot that he was “flat, dull and unengaging – exactly what we are looking for” and that he had made the final two. Murray complained that he had never made the final two to which Ayoade rejoined, “The nation knows that.”
The merry show continued.
At one point, Murray said (to Ayoade), “I don’t like you.”
Ayoade responded: “I am attracted to you, but I don’t like you.”
What he really meant:
“In other words: Fatal attraction.”
What he definitely didn’t:
“What a Mills and Boons truism.”
Shanghai Masters shootout: Murray rains on Federer’s parade
What he said:
“I have been to watch a lot of football matches and you say a lot worse than that and you don’t get yellow card."
Andy Murray compares the code violation he received in his match against Tomas Berdych at the Paris Masters to a yellow card.
Murray was complaining about the change in balls. Berdych felt the balls were too soft and called for fresh ones.
Tomas decided that the balls were too soft—which they weren’t. The umpire gave him three brand new balls to serve with … I wasn’t aware that they were just changing three brand new balls. Then that totally changed the way the ball plays and the court plays. That was what happened. I just asked, ‘Is it not normal to let the opponent also see the balls?
On the warning he received, the Scot added:
"Actually I said bollocks to the chair umpire and that got me a warning.”
What he really meant:
“They don’t change balls either and they have substitutes.”
What he definitely didn’t:
“What a soccer!”
What he said:
"The hardest thing is 45 minutes to an hour before going on court I have to get pasta and fish down and fish at that time of the morning isn’t great.”
Andy Murray is not voluntarily an early bird when it comes to taking to the tennis court.
The Scot is not enthused about having pasta and fish before his big match against Andy Roddick at the Paris Masters.
That’s why tennis is a bit challenging because you never know when you could play.
It’s something you get used to the more years you’re on the tour but it’s probably the earliest start I’ve had in six or seven years.
Murray lost in the quarters to Tomas Berdych.
What he really meant:
“I’d rather be fishing that early.”
What he definitely didn’t:
“More sauce with the pasta, please.”