Marcus Willis’ fairy tale Wimbledon run ended at the hands of Roger Federer on Centre Court on Wednesday, but Tim Henman is hoping he can use the journey as a springboard to further success.
World number 772 and British number 23 Willis, who was on the verge of quitting tennis earlier this year until his new girlfriend Jenny convinced him otherwise, won six pre-qualifying and qualifying matches to reach the All England Club.
Once there, the 25-year-old convincingly beat world number 54 Ricardas Berankis in round one before valiantly going down 6-0, 6-3, 6-4 to 17-time Grand Slam champion Federer on Wednesday.
Henman claims the Brit performed admirably on Centre Court, although has warned about putting too much pressure on Willis’ shoulders.
“I thought he acquitted himself well against Federer,” said Henman, who was speaking on behalf of HSBC, the Official Banking Partner of The Championships.
“The journey that he’s had, playing his eighth match against Federer on Centre Court was a special atmosphere.
“He did well - he certainly didn’t disgrace himself, had some good moments out there and hopefully he can use it as a springboard.
“Let’s not get carried away though. He’s 772 in the world - this will certainly help his ranking and get him into a few more tournaments but he’s got a long way to go from the Futures events into the Challengers. We shouldn’t be putting too much pressure on him.
“He’s lost weight but he needs to lose more, get in better shape and that should help his game. If he could get inside the top 250 or 300 in the world that would be a great effort.”
Willis took home £50,000 of prize money for making the second round and will rise to around 416 in the world when the rankings are published after Wimbledon.
He will now be looking to kick on and continue his climb up the rankings but Henman insists that his game still needs considerable improvement if that is to occur.
“If you actually analyse his game, he can be effective on grass but it’s whether he can transition to other surfaces? On a hard court he finds it hard,” added Henman.
“There are technical elements but also the physical elements. It has been an unbelievable story for Wimbledon and just shows that dreams do come true.
“But I don’t think we should be trying to build him up too much because he’s 25 years old and was only 770 in the world.”
Tim Henman is an HSBC ambassador. HSBC is the Official Banking Partner of The Championships and is committed to supporting tennis from the back garden to Centre Court. Follow @HSBC_Sport