New Delhi: On the opening day of Wimbledon, while Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer advanced through their first round matches easily, it was Britain's Marcus Willis who stole the limelight.
After completing a career slam by clinching his maiden French Open title recently, World number one Djokovic cruised to an easy 6-0, 7-6 (7/3), 6-4 victory over Britain`s James Ward.
Federer, whose last major triumph was at Wimbledon in 2012, defeated Argentina`s world number 51 Guido Pella, 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (7/3), 6-3.
While both the legends entertained the fans, the spectators were thrilled to watch 25-year-old Willis, who defeated Ricardas Berankis of Lithuania, ranked 652 places above him, 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 out on a raucous Court 17 where fans sung `walking in a Willis wonderland`.
The club player makes a living as a coach teaching youngsters and senior citizens tennis skills at $30 an hour. As the story goes, Willis was on the verge of quitting tennis in February.
But then he met dentist Jenny Bate, who became his girlfriend, and who persuaded him to have one more shot and not go to Philadelphia where he had been offered a job as a coach.
"She told me not to go, so I didn`t. I do what I`m told," he said.
The gamble has paid off in spectacular style for a man who is the lowest-ranked qualifier to make the second round of a major since Jared Palmer at number 923 at the 1988 US Open.
Willis was last into the pre-qualifying competition for Wimbledon, where he played three matches and then battled through three more ties to book a place in not only his first Grand Slam event but his first main tour competition.
He will now be up against seven-time champion Federer, where irrespective of the result, he is set to bag a guaranteed sum of £50,000 ($66,000).