Talk to a Specialist

Pro:Direct Tennis

Marcus Willis

WILLIS TALKS WINNING AT THE WARWICK BOAT CLUB

  • Location: Warwick Boat Club

In tennis, more perhaps than any other sport, perseverance pays off. Years spent battling through Futures tournaments, slowly grinding your way up the rankings, can eventually be rewarded with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. For Marcus Willis, that chance came in the form of a match against Roger Federer at Wimbledon last year – and now he wants to show that he belongs in the big time.

Looking back on last year, we’ve heard you say you enjoyed the match against Berankis more than playing Federer – other than winning, why was that?

It was the whole day. I wasn’t expected to win so much, I played really well, and the atmosphere was just … it just kicked off. With Federer, you build up for it, you know it’s going to be a big deal, whereas the Berankis match – I didn’t realise it was going to be like that. The aftermath, the interviews, the press, the realisation I’d just done what I did. It was a nice, unexpected experience.

You've got to stick at it and believe.

Marcus Willis - British No.8

How much more difficult is it to play in a tournament like Wimbledon as a qualifier? The cumulative fatigue of playing so many matches must have an effect.

There are pros and cons. I won six matches, because I went through pre-qualifying as well, so obviously I’m fatiguing as grass court tennis is tough. But I’ve won matches, I’m confident. First round, it’s Berankis’s first match – it’s my seventh. I’m feeling pretty good. So that helps, but there are pros and cons to any way you look at it, whatever court you’re playing on. The atmosphere of the crowd, the weather, the wind – things go in your favour and go against it, and you have to try and work it out.

We know the difference in money earned is drastic as you move up the rankings, but where do you see the change in dynamic as an athlete?

It’s really not too different [playing against higher ranked players]. I mean the guys that are higher ranked are a bit more solid, like the top 20, and then the top 10 are a bit more solid than the top 20, they’ll do things a bit better on big points. But everyone can play, and on their day anyone can beat anyone. It’s just A – picking the right tournaments, B – you need a bit of luck, and C – experience. The average age of a top player is going up now, because there’s a lot of learning going on, and you work things out. It’s complex. You’ve got to stick at it and believe.

Where does your self-belief come from? Considering you were on the verge of ending your pro career a year or so ago, you seem absolutely convinced that you can compete at the top level.

Wimbledon last year I beat a lot of very good players in a row. I’d always believed I could; I’d had good wins before. But when other people don’t back you so well, when you don’t get given anything, when you’ve never really proven to yourself consistently that you can do it, it’s tough. I didn’t want to give up, I always believed I could play at that level, but Wimbledon just confirmed everything. I was playing well before – I wasn’t that surprised when I pre-qualified. I was a bit more surprised when I qualified, but I felt good. I didn’t want to quit. It’s one of those things that you have to make a decision about, and I was about to stop, but [then Wimbledon happened].

What’s your aim at Wimbledon this year? And do you think you’ll be given a wild card?

My aim, regardless of wild card or not, is to get as far in the tournament as I can. I’m not expecting a wild card – I’d love a wild card, but I’m not expecting it. I think I can do some damage in the tournament, whether that’s through qualifying or the main draw. Hopefully the main draw!

What are the key things you need from your footwear when you’re playing on grass?

You need to feel like they’re slippers, and these [the Wave Exceed Tour 2] are awesome. You don’t want to notice anything about your shoe when you’re playing tennis. If you do then it’s uncomfortable, and that’s not ideal – you just want to focus on the game. These work all day. A lot of tennis shoes are stiff, they hurt, you jab your toe in the end of them, but these are great.

If you could choose any celeb to cheer you on from the Royal Box, who would it be?

Jurgen Klopp. I admire the guy, he’s brilliant. Good energy, and he makes me laugh.

JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Wherever you are in the world, share your tennis stories with us using #ProDirectTennis

Copyright © 2005-2017 Pro:Direct. Designated trademarks and brands are the property of their respective owners. Use of this Web site constitutes acceptance of the Pro:Direct Privacy Policy.

  • Visa
  • Mastercard
  • American Express
  • paypal