LONDON: Roger Federer was not about to let this feel-good story spoil his own Wimbledon.
The seven-time champion — perhaps the greatest player of all time — showed little mercy Wednesday against Marcus Willis, a 772nd-ranked British qualifier who had never won a tour-level match until this week and has captivated the home nation with his improbable run.
Putting aside sentimentality and ignoring the carnival-like atmosphere, Federer won the first seven games and sailed to a 6-0, 6-3, 6-4 victory in a second-round match played under the Centre Court roof on another rainy day at the All England Club.
“It was very refreshing to play against an opponent like this,” Federer said.
“I always knew it was going to be a completely different match than everything that I’ve played before here at Wimbledon.”
He compared it to the time he walked out to play Pete Sampras on Centre Court in 2001.
“‘I remember how nervous I was and how big a deal it was,” Federer said. “You had nothing to lose and you could just go out there and enjoy yourself. Marcus did that wonderfully.”
While Willis savored the moment — smiling, laughing and playing to the raucous crowd throughout the match — there was never much doubt about the outcome.
“I was enjoying it out there,” Willis said.
“If I’m playing well and competing with Roger Federer for a couple of sets, I’m doing the right things. I’ve still got a lot to learn, a lot of improving to do.”
“It sounds funny,” he added, “but I’m disappointed to lose. I went out there trying to win.”
Willis, a 25-year-old lefthander, was the lowest-ranked qualifier to reach the second round of a Grand Slam since 1988.
He has been giving tennis lessons at a club in central England, and he was only recently talked out of giving up on his goal of making it on the pro tour by his girlfriend.
Willis made the most of his time on the most famous stage in the sport. He celebrated winners by spreading his arms wide, holding up a fist or gesturing to his friends and family.
Earlier, two-time defending champion Novak Djokovic won his 30th straight match at a major tournament, sweeping into the third round with a clinical 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (5) victory over Adrian Mannarino.
The win gave Djokovic sole ownership of third place on the all-time list for most consecutive victories in Grand Slam play. Only Rod Laver with 31 and Don Budge with 37 have won more in a row.
Djokovic hasn’t lost a Grand Slam match since falling to Stan Wawrinka in the 2015 French Open final. He hasn’t dropped a set so far this week as he bids for a fourth Wimbledon title, fifth straight Grand Slam championship and 13th major overall.
Third-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska, who reached the women’s final here in 2012, overwhelmed Kateryna Kozlova 6-2, 6-1 in just over an hour to move into the second round.
Radwanska used her clever all-court game to thoroughly dominate the 97th-ranked Ukrainian, who was making her main draw debut at Wimbledon and has never won a Grand Slam match.
Radwanska won the first four games and was always in control.