BERKSHIRE'S Marcus Willis has revealed his “natural understanding” with doubles partner Jay Clarke played a key role in their five-set triumph over the defending champions at Wimbledon on Saturday evening, writes Fiona Tomas.

The British pair stunned French duo Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut in the second round at the All England Club, storming to a 3-6 6-1 7-6 (7-3) 5-7 6-3 victory over the French duo.

Despite hitting a memorable 18 aces and hit 26 winners en route to their victory, Slough-born Willis said he was surprised at how well he had gelled with Clarke, who is eight years his junior.

“It's a really good natural understanding. I don't know why. I've played with people and run into each other. It can get quite aggressive out there,” said Willis, a former pupil of The Forest School in Winnersh.

“We played great. The crowd got behind us. I'm a bit speechless, to be honest.”

With the pair linking up in only their second ever tournament, Willis dubbed the win one of the best in his career and shed further light on how their partnership came about – with Clarke’s sister sending him a text to suggest the idea.

The Slough player also paid tribute to the fighting character that he and Clarke displayed throughout the game, which saw them recover from losing three match points in the fourth set.

“It was awesome really, especially the way we came out in the fifth and kept going,” added Willis.

“We had three match points. We didn't do a lot wrong but it's easy to let your heads drop and we fought really hard.

“If we rack up the games on our serve, anything can happen. We took a few risks, it paid off.”

Having reached the second round in the men’s draw last year, where he exited in a memorable Centre Court encounter to Swiss great Roger Federer, Willis is now set to continue his Wimbledon dream with Clarke in the doubles.

“We are going to take it a match at a time. I mean, we haven't played much doubles. We are obviously pretty good. We can’t say, ‘Oh, we can go and win it.’ We take it a point at a time,” he added.

“It's [Wimbledon] my favourite tournament. It’s every Brit's dream. I'd say every time I step on the court I fight very, very hard. It's easy to fight hard here - it's not so easy other places. I always manage to give my best.”

And the 26-year-old believes teenager Clarke has a bright future in the game.

“He’s definitely a great athlete and has a great serve. He’s an all-around player,” Willis concluded.

“My advice to him would be to keep doing what you're doing. Keep your head down and don't get involved in all the rubbish outside of tennis. Doing what you're doing, it's working really well.”

Willis and Clarke will now take on Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic in the men’s doubles third round on court 14 later today.

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