Marcus Willis admits that the last few weeks have been ‘surreal’, but he does not plan on making it a one-off as he looks to build on his success at Wimbledon.
The 25-year-old leapt to national attention after winning six qualifying matches to reach the main draw and disposed of Ricardas Berankis in straight-sets to set up a Centre Court meeting with Roger Federer.
Though the world No 772 was beaten 0-6, 3-6, 4-6, his boyish enthusiasm and positivity won over the 15,000 strong-crowd and the watching nation.
“Don’t be afraid to have dreams”
Speaking in the aftermath of Wales’ remarkable 3-1 win over Belgium, Chris Coleman found the words to sum up the mood of a nation on the brink of history. Wales, a country of 3 million, a country where rugby is king and football a very distant second, has become the smallest population to ever reach the semi-finals of the European Championship.
They are the paupers of British football; where England, Scotland and Northern Ireland have a history to speak of, be it tinged by years of disappointment, hurt and regret, Wales have none. Constantly the laughing stock they are defined by near misses, failures and rank embarrassment, while recent memories are laced with tragedy.
A narrow defeat to Yugoslavia denied them a place at the Euros in 1980, and Mike England’s side missed out on two World Cup appearances later that decade thanks to goal difference.
Portugal have been leading in matches at Euro 2016 for a combined 22 minutes, and yet it has been enough to see them reach the semi-final stage.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Co were the only team to reach the knockout rounds without winning a single game, and they took the lead only once in the group stage – against Iceland.
Fernando Santos’ side would not have reached their second successive semi-final in the European Championship without a dramatic late win over the highly fancied Croatia, during a drab affair in Lens.
Host Joe Devine is joined by Martin Race, James Dutton and the laugh of Alex Stewart. The boys basically read aloud the Guardian’s excellent preview of Euro 2016. Learn nothing new here.
4 April 2015 – Andy King sparks relegation fight
Eight games without a win, four victories all season and staring relegation square in the face. Nigel Pearson’s Leicester were in free fall ahead of the visit of West Ham. They sat three points adrift of QPR and seven points off 17th placed Sunderland. A dismal first campaign back in the Premier League for a decade looked doomed, before Welsh midfielder Andy King fired a winner four minutes from time at the King Power Stadium to gift the Foxes a vital three points, and a springboard for the rest of the season.
13 July 2015 – Claudio Ranieri drafted in
Pearson masterminded Leicester’s escape, but the club’s owners decided to dispense with his services to widespread bemusement. The final two months of the season had masked, however, a season where their manager had looked out of his depth. In came, to widespread incredulity, Claudio Ranieri. Not seen since guiding Greece to a disastrous home defeat by the Faroe Islands, the Italian’s appointment was largely derided. Famous for finishing second and labelled the ‘Tinkerman’ after his four-year spell in charge of Chelsea, many tipped the Italian to be a disaster.
Leicester were 5,000/1 to win the league at the start of the season, but the Loch Ness monster, alien life and an Oscar for Dean Gaffney were all more likely…
500-1 – Prime Minister Simon Cowell
The X-Factor and Britain’s Got Talent supremo has never, to our knowledge, recorded an interest in switching entertainment for politics. And if he did, it would have been a more likely outcome than Claudio Ranieri getting his hands on the league title.
Not just more likely, but 10 times more likely. Ladrokes had the 56-year-old down as 500/1 to become Prime Minister.
500-1 – Loch Ness monster discovered
The fabled Scottish monster has had its existence scrutinised at every turn over the centuries. Society has come to terms with the idea that the legend is little more than that. But if its existence were to be proven, Paddy Power have it at only 500/1.
Barcelona ran into a brick wall on Wednesday as Atletico Madrid dumped the holders out of the Champions League.
A 3-2 aggregate defeat condemned Luis Enrique’s side to a quarter-final exit in their quest of retaining Europe’s flagship cup competition.
No side has ever retained the Champions League – the great AC Milan side were the last to win back-to-back European Cups in 1990 – and you’d be forgiven for thinking that if a side with Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi and Neymar can’t do it then no-one can.
Bale has only just returned from a lengthy injury absence, and was left out of the squad for the friendlies against Northern Ireland and Ukraine.
Coleman explained that both he and Real Madrid thought a little bit of extra rest would help the player – as well as giving him the chance to spend some time with his newborn daughter, who arrived this week.