Willis takes first step towards Wimbledon return

Marcus Willis (Getty Images)
Marcus Willis (Getty Images)

London - Englishman Marcus Willis edged to within two wins of a return to the tournament he briefly lit up last year as he upset his higher-ranked opponent in first round qualifying for Wimbledon on Monday.

The 26-year-old made a mockery of his world ranking of 772 to come through Wimbledon qualifying in 2016 and then set up a second round meeting with Swiss master Roger Federer on Centre Court.

He was somewhat controversially not awarded a wildcard last week into the main singles draw but one for the qualifying tournament instead.

However, the chirpy Willis -- who did get a wild card into the Wimbledon men's doubles -- shrugged off that disappointment to see off Slovakia's Andrej Martin 7-5, 7-5 making light of his ranking of 374 in the world compared to his opponent's 184.

"It feels very different," said Willis. "Last year I came here and no-one really knew what was going on, I was happy to be here.

"I'm happy to be here again, obviously, but after what I did last year, doing less could be disappointing."

Next up for Willis is an all-British contest against good friend Liam Broady.

"There will probably be more people rooting for Marcus, he's a loveable guy and fantastic to watch," said Broady.

Willis and Broady were accompanied into the second round by 18-year-old compatriot Jay Clarke who progressed with a 6-3 6-4 victory over El Salvador's Marcelo Arevalo.

"The first few times you step on court with them (the professionals), it's a big thing," said Clarke, whose precocious talent has seen him invited by Andy Murray to practice at the French Open.

"But you do get used to it. I'm just taking it day by day here because a lot can happen."

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