It’s not often that Roger Federer plays a tennis match and his opponent gets support from crowd. In his nearly two-decade long tennis career, the Swiss Maestro has acquired a unique universal appeal of taking the audience with him regardless of the venue. On Wednesday however, the 17-time Grand Slam winner played while also watching 15000 people at All-England’s Center Court supporting his second-round opponent Marcus Willis. The big man didn’t mind because Willis was a British native and it couldn’t have been any different. Federer bageled Willis in the first set and easily won the match in 85 minutes. But on day 3, the 25-year-old Willis appeared on the court to a deafening cheer and when he left after losing, he still remained the focus of attention. He signed autographs and posed selfies with an infectious smile. Federer may have won the match but Willis took an entire nation with him with his tremendous self-belief. Curiously, Roger Federer has another Briton to contend with in third round and he will surely have the crowds against him yet again. Before play began on day 5, several seeded men and women players had already gone out of contention. The chief title contenders are, however, still in the fray, except no.4 seed Stan Wawrinka, who fell in four sets to come back man from Argentina Juan Martin del Potro. The women’s tennis this year has been more about new dresses designed by Nike than action on the court. The original outfit resembles flashy nightwear that tends to reveal too much flesh. Some players like Serena Williams have made alterations as per their choice but others like Eugenie Bouchard don’t mind. Rains in London summer have thrown the schedule haywire and except at the closed-roof center court, matches elsewhere are affected.
In the town of Wokingham, Marcus Willis works as a part-time tennis coach. He came to Wimbledon as a first-time qualifier and won his first round match against Lithuania’s world no.53 Ricardas Berankis. Ranked at 772nd himself, Willis came face to face with the great Roger Federer in the second round. When he walked to the center court, no one expected him to win. Yet, Willis was greeted raucously by the crowd The 25-year old got another standing ovation, when he sent a warm-up service in. The qualifier raised him arm and smiled as if he had won the Wimbledon crown, though even the first game of the third-round match was yet to begin. Wednesday was a damp day in London but the closed roof at center court allowed the match to get underway. The easy-mannered Willis held everyone’s attention and had them on his side in a jiffy. He couldn’t stand to Federer’s fire-power in the first set and lost 0-6. But when Federer led 2-0 earlier, Willis managed to draw the Swiss in by playing a short backhand slice. Then he surprised Federer with a high lob, which Federer took over his left shoulder. Willis ran hard and managed to flick it across the net with a forehand slice but fell down in the process. Now despite Federer punching the ball back deep into a corner, Willis produced a spectacular backhand lob and won the point. The crowd at center court rose to the feet in clapping. Even Federer joined the crowd in applauding Marcus Willis. The Briton lost the first set but looked far from disappointed because playing against arguably the greatest tennis player in history was an honor in itself. In the second set, when Willis won his first game, the applause was deafening once again. In the player’s box, his girlfriend Jennifer Bate leapt to her feet and kept doing so every time Willis took a point off the 7-time Wimbledon champion. The match was over in 85 minutes at 6-0, 6-3, 6-4 in Federer’s favor but Willis had made his mark. The Briton also proved that sport was sometimes beyond merely winning or losing. On Friday, Federer will lock horn with another Briton and he can expect another rare day, when the crowd would be against him.
Women’s Wimbledon is more about Nike’s offering a new dress design. Many women’s players have gone for changes in the dress by altering it to their liking. However, some players like Canadian Eugenie Bouchard have welcomed the dress that tends to be a bit revealing. The design has drawn comparisons to a short, flimsy piece of nightwear, which is more appropriate at home during night time than on a tennis court. As for the court action, it has continued and many seeded players have gone out of the reckoning. French Open winner Spain’s Garbine Muguruza, no.7 seed Swiss Belinda Bencic and many others from the top 32 have exited Wimbledon this year. On Friday, top seeded Serena Williams survived a huge scare from compatriot Christina McHale before reaching the third round. Also entering the third round were Serena’s sister Venus, and no. 13 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova. Among men, Andy Murray, Kei Nishikori, Grigor Dimitrov, Jiri Vesely, Bernard Tomic, Milos Raonic, Nick Kyrgios and Tomas Berdych have booked their third-round spots.
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