Two-times champion Rafa Nadal crashed out in the second round of Wimbledon on Thursday after being out-muscled and out-thought in four sets by an inspired Dustin Brown of Germany.
The Spaniard, who has slipped down the sport’s pecking order and was seeded 10 after a year of injury and below-par performances, fell 7-5 3-6 6-4 6-4 as Brown, ranked 102 in the world, unleashed a barrage of thunderous serves and ground strokes, mixed with clever drop shots.
Brown, who had beaten Nadal in the pair’s only other meeting, looked to rush the Spaniard from the start, blasting winners at every opportunity and squeezing Nadal at the net to cut off his options in an unorthodox style that had the Wimbledon crowd in raptures.
Qualifier Brown, who sealed victory with a thumping ace, heads into the third round at Wimbledon for the second time, equalling his best Grand Slam performance.
Since finishing runner-up to Novak Djokovic in the 2011 final, Spanish former world number one Nadal has now failed to advance past the last 16 of the grasscourt major as he lost to a qualifier for the first time in any grand slam.
Earlier, the untroubled advance of the heavy hitters in the men’s and women’s game continued apace at Wimbledon on Thursday as Roger Federer, Andy Murray and Petra Kvitova cruised into the third round with straight-sets victories.
The early exits of women’s third seed Simona Halep and number seven Ana Ivanovic and the injury withdrawal of men’s number five Kei Nishikori have been the only blips in an otherwise untroubled march to the third round for the big guns.
Murray led the way as he polished off Dutchman Robin Haase 6-1 6-1 6-4 in 87 minutes with barely a misplaced shot.
“I think in grand slams you have to try to conserve energy when you can really because the two weeks can be quite draining physically and mentally,” Murray told reporters.
“If you can get yourself off the court quickly, capitalise if your opponent maybe isn’t playing as well, if you’re on your game, try to push yourself to keep playing that way. It can pay off towards the end of the tournament.”
Federer was equally untroubled in a 6-4 6-2 6-2 mauling of American Sam Querrey.
Seeking a record eighth Wimbledon singles title, Federer was on cruise control from the off.
When he did find himself out of position he managed to manufacture a lob from between his legs that climbed over his 6ft 6ins (1.98m) opponent.
“I’m very happy with the way I played the first two matches,” Federer said. “I guess there’s also a little bit of relief that I’m also playing well at Wimbledon.”
Possibly even more impressive was Kvitova, whose 6-2 6-0 demolition of Kurumi Nara meant the defending champion has dropped only three games in two matches.
After almost four full days of action the top four men’s seeds have yet to drop a set between them, with only two going as far as a tiebreak.
It is a similar story on the women’s side — Halep apart — as the top three and number five Caroline Wozniacki, who advanced on Thursday, have also not dropped a set.
There are still threats floating in the draw, however, and Germany’s Sabine Lisicki, runner-up two years ago and with a great Wimbledon record, is one of them.
Seeded 18th, she delivered an impressive comeback win over American Christina McHale.
Lisicki lost the first set and was broken in the opening game of the second but regrouped impressively and by the end was pounding down a succession of powerful winners en route to a 2-6 7-5 6-1 victory.
Matches on the outside courts started late after early drizzle following three days of sunshine and record temperatures.
It soon cleared, however, leaving the players to deal with draining, humid conditions.