Express & Star

Marcus Willis reaches mixed doubles quarter-finals on Wimbledon return

Willis and Alicia Barnett are through to the quarter-finals of the mixed doubles.

Published
Last updated

Marcus Willis is on a charge again at Wimbledon eight years after facing Roger Federer on Centre Court.

The 33-year-old briefly became the biggest story of the Championships when he qualified for the main draw in 2016 and won his first-round match to set up the date with Federer.

A stunning lob was the highlight of a straight-sets defeat and Willis soon slipped off the radar and into retirement, but two years ago he returned to the sport in doubles and is back at the All England Club for the first time since 2017.

This time Willis’ exploits have come in mixed doubles, where he has teamed up with Alicia Barnett to reach the quarter-finals, with the pair beating Americans Katie Volynets and Rajeev Ram 2-6 6-3 (11/9) on Wednesday.

Willis admits his Federer moment feels like “a lifetime ago”, saying: “Around Wimbledon time it comes up but, when I’m at tournaments, some people might remember it but I’m old now, I’m 33.

“The younger guys coming through might have remembered it when they were young but tennis is evolving and moving so quickly. When Wimbledon comes around I might get tagged in the lob or things like that.

“Obviously I’ve got really fond memories. I was cleaning out my garage recently and I had a load of Wimbledon memorabilia and some cards from schools and stuff like that, which I actually properly read through, and it was really nice, because at the time it was so fast-paced I didn’t really have the time to even respond to people.

“Little bits pop up every now and then. It just feels like a lifetime ago. I’ll always have that experience of Wimbledon but this one’s also amazing, and the doubles run we had in 2017 (with Jay Clarke) was also amazing.

“The three times I’ve come here, something incredible’s happened. I’m just incredibly grateful.”

Willis has made good progress since returning to the tour, and last month he broke into the doubles top 100 for the first time.

“It’s very different now,” he said. “Obviously I was a singles player back then. I’ve retired, come back and just had a really positive nearly two years back.

Henry Patten, left, and Harri Heliovaara talk tactics
Henry Patten, left, and Harri Heliovaara talk tactics (Mike Egerton/PA)

“I still pinch myself at the ranking I am. We’re playing Wimbledon quarter-finals. It’s just amazing. I’m just making sure I’m trying to go out there and enjoy it.”

Jamie Murray and his American partner Taylor Townsend reached the quarter-finals with a 6-7 (3) 6-1 (10/5) victory over Kevin Krawietz and Alexandra Panova while two-time champions Neal Skupski and Desirae Krawczyk defeated Fabrice Martin and Cristina Bucsa 6-3 6-3.

There is guaranteed to be a British player in the men’s doubles final after Skupski and Henry Patten both claimed victories with their respective partners to set up a meeting.

Skupski won the title last year with Dutchman Wesley Koolhof and is thriving on grass again alongside New Zealander Michael Venus, who usually plays with Jamie Murray.

Skupski and Venus won the warm-up events at Queen’s and Eastbourne and maintained their winning streak by beating German duo Constantin Frantzen and Hendrik Jebens 7-6 (1) 7-6 (1) in the quarter-finals.

Alfie Hewett stretches for a backhand
Alfie Hewett stretches for a backhand (Aaron Chown/PA)

Patten, meanwhile, is through to the latter stages of a grand slam for the first time with his Finnish partner Harri Heliovaara.

They claimed a fine victory over fourth seeds Marcelo Arevalo and Mate Pavic on a deciding tie-break, winning 4-6 7-6 (5) 7-6 (10/7).

In the men’s wheelchair singles, Alfie Hewett began his latest quest to complete his career Grand Slam by beating compatriot Ben Bartram 6-1 6-4 but Gordon Reid lost 6-4 6-4 to third seed Gustavo Fernandez.

Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.