Tennis: Willis falls short of Wimbledon singles return

Marcus Willis with Roger Federer after their second round Wimbledon clash in 2016.
Marcus Willis with Roger Federer after their second round Wimbledon clash in 2016.SCREENSHOT: YOUTUBE

LONDON (AFP) – Marcus Willis’ dreams of another day on Centre Court at Wimbledon evaporated on Thursday (June 29) as the Englishman lost in the final round of qualifying.

The 26-year-old, who defied his ranking of 772 to reach the Wimbledon second round and a Centre Court date against Roger Federer in 2016, lost 6-4, 6-1, 7-6 (7/4) to Ukrainian Ilya Marchenko in a match where both players required attention from the trainer.

Marchenko, seeded ninth and ranked 117 in the world to Willis’ 374, had a problem with his neck while the burly left-handed Englishman called for the trainer and played on with a knee strapped up.

Willis, who won six qualifiers to reach the main draw 12 months ago where his magical run was eventually ended by Swiss star Federer, will have to content himself with appearing in the doubles at the grass court Grand Slam event next week for which he obtained a wild card.

That is also the consolation for his highly-rated teenage compatriot Jay Clarke after the world ranked 360 let slip a two set lead to lose in five to Austria’s Sebastian Ofner.

The 18-year-old, whose talent has been recognised by being invited along to train with both the British Davis Cup team and by world number one Andy Murray at the French Open, went down 2-6, 6-7 (9/11), 6-4, 6-4, 6-1.