MARCUS Willis says he did everything in his power to reach the Wimbledon championships for a second year running, after his hopes of reviving his dream at the All England Club were ended at Roehampton, writes Fiona Tomas.

The Wokingham-based player lost in straight sets to Illya Marchenko 4-6 1-6 6-7 (4-7) to end his chances of competing at the men’s singles next week, after the Briton was hampered throughout by a knee injury.

Willis, who was born in Slough, started off on the back foot and struggled to deal with the ferocious forearm of Marchenko – seeded ninth in the qualifying competition – who dictated much of the play and forced the British number nine to rally deep from the back line.  

And Willis’ quest to reach the All England Club was further jeopardized when the Berkshire-born player aggravated a knee injury sustained during his previous win over fellow Briton Liam Broady on Wednesday evening, when he slipped on the grass.

“I got on the bike this morning, I did my hip because it was hurting. I would have not needed a miracle, but for him to not be how he was or to be hurt himself,” said Willis, a former pupil of Forest School in Winnersh.

“The knee’s not got great. I struggled to push off but finished the match and did my best. He’s a very good player, I’m not saying I would have won, but it would have nice to have been 100% for that match.

“He [Marchenko] seemed to be fine. He was serving pretty well. He was moving well and playing well so I knew he was okay.

“I still went out there, fought and did everything I could but I didn’t really have a sniff.”

But in true testament to his crowd-pleasing character, a spirited Willis battled on courageously to the delight of the Roehampton spectators watching on the new televised show court at the Bank of England Sports Centre,spearheading a resurgence in the third set to force a tie break.

“I played on pure adrenaline out there and took him to a tie break in the third, so if I can do that in singles I’m sure I can in doubles, but the physio said I wouldn’t damage myself by carrying on, as I was going to stop half-way through the second,” the 26-year-old and world number 374 said.   

“I’ll go and get it checked out and we’ll have to see how bad it is.”

Willis made a name for himself at the All England Club last year, when he won seven successive matches in the tournament’s pre-qualifying and qualifying rounds to earn a dream date on Centre Court with Swiss great Roger Federer, which he lost in straight sets.

And he looked like he was igniting his a fairy tale run again, when he beat Andrej Martin 7-5 7-5 – the world number 148 – in the first round of qualifying on Monday.

But it is not all heartache for Willis, who has the consolation of perfecting his double act when he links up with compatriot Jay Clarke in the men’s senior doubles, having been granted a wild card into the draw. 

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