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Marcus Willis upsets the odds to win Glasgow Futures tournament

24th January 2013

After securing a wild card into the ITF Futures tournament in Glasgow last week, Marcus wouldn’t have been tipped by many to make an impression at the event, especially considering his ATP world ranking of 964 at the beginning of the week, which made him one of the lowest ranked players in the draw. At the beginning of November 2012, Marcus began to be sponsored by A1 Pharmaceuticals Tennis Academy, in Kent, and personally managed by its founder and managing director of A1 Pharmaceuticals PLC, Gary Lewis.

The partnership began with Marcus competing in three ITF Futures events in Thailand, and was followed over the Christmas period with an intensive training block in preparation for the new season. Marcus was a high calibre junior, having achieved a junior world ranking of 15, and although his ranking has slipped from a high of 563 in the world following the loss of his LTA funding, he undoubtedly has the talent to go far. Gary has set him an ambitious, but achievable target of reaching the top 100 in singles in three years time, at age 25.

In the main draw of Glasgow, only 4 players had lower ATP world rankings than Marcus, who made a mockery of his own world ranking. First up for Marcus was the eighth seeded Frenchman and world number 417, Julien Obry, who was dispatched in straight sets. In the round of 16 Marcus faced a qualifier and fellow Brit, Toby Martin. Marcus was forced to battle hard for a three sets victory. Overcoming the loss of a first set tie-break, Marcus hit back by winning the second, also on a tie break, before sealing victory by gaining the decisive break of serve in the third set.

(Glasgow futures winner, Marcus Willis, pictured left, and runner up Josh Goodall)

Having reached the quarter finals, Marcus could have been forgiven for resting on his laurels, having secured the two points which were his target for the tournament. His quarter final opponent was British no.5, and one-time GB Davis Cup player Dan Evans. The match looked to following the form book after Evans took the first set comfortably. Both players held serve to force a second tie-break, which Marcus raced through without dropping a point to force a decider. Marcus managed to secure the decisive break of serve, and wasn’t to be denied a famous victory as he served out the match. Marcus was giving away about four hundred places in the world rankings against his semi-final opponent, Christian Harrison from the United States. The difference in the rankings wasn’t noticeable once the players stepped on court however. Marcus’s big serve and heavy groundstrokes weren’t giving Harrison a look in, as he dominated the first set. The second set was a closer affair, but Marcus again proved too strong in the tie-break, prevailing 6-1, 7-6.

Marcus’ final opponent was top seeded Josh Goodall. Ranked number 258 in the world and a regular winner on the futures circuit, Goodall was the heavy favourite. Marcus was undeterred, and despite a gruelling tournament in which he played consecutive three set matches and five tie-breaks, showing no signs of fatigue. Marcus managed to secure a break of serve in each set, and Goodall was unable to respond to the onslaught, as Marcus recorded a hugely unexpected straight sets victory, 6-4, 6-4. With regular funding and management, as well as thirty tournaments in the pipeline for 2013, Marcus will be looking to build on a result that will send shockwaves through British tennis, as well as seeing him climb at least 200 places in the world rankings.

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