LONDON, England, June 29- Rafael Nadal crashed to his worst Grand Slam defeat in seven years on Thursday when Czech journeyman Lukas Rosol, the world number 100, pulled off one of the greatest upsets in Wimbledon history.
After a day when the sleepy All England Club had been rocked by allegations of cheating and sexism, it was the unknown Rosol who delivered the final, late night, earth-shattering blow.
Rosol, whose only other five visits to Wimbledon had ended in first round losses in qualifying, stunned the 2008 and 2010 champion, and 11-time Grand Slam title winner Nadal, 6-7 (9/11), 6-4, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 in the second round.
It was a remarkable upset as Nadal slumped to his earliest exit at a major since the same stage of the 2005 Wimbledon championship when he was beaten by Luxembourg’s Gilles Muller.
“It’s painful to lose tonight, I’m not very happy but it was just the second round, I was a long way from the final,” said Nadal.
“The last four months have been great for me. I lost a tennis match tonight, it’s not a tragedy. There are more important things.”
Rosol, 26, who has never gone beyond the third round of a Grand Slam, was stunned by his own performance which was capped by three aces, out of a total off 22, and a forehand winner in the decisive last game.
“It’s like a miracle for me. He’s a superstar. I played unbelievable. I guess Nadal is only human,” said Rosol, after the match had been delayed by 45 minutes to allow the Centre Court roof to close and for the match to finish.
Rosol goes on to face Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber in the next round.
Earlier Thursday, Wimbledon had been engulfed by scandal with Ivo Karlovic accusing officials of cheating him out of victory against home hope Andy Murray and Gilles Simon refusing to back down in the equal prize money row.
Croat giant Karlovic was called for 11 foot faults in his 7-5, 6-7 (5/7), 6-2, 7-6 (7/4) loss and accused All England Club line judges of deliberately attempting to ease the British player’s path through the tournament.
“I feel cheated. On a Grand Slam, Centre Court,” said 33-year-old Karlovic.
“It was outrageous. It’s Wimbledon and they do this. This is bullshit.
“The whole credibility of this tournament went down for me. I don’t expect it here. Even though it is against an English guy who they always want to win.”
Murray, the fourth seed, admitted he was surprised to see so many foot faults called against the big-serving Croat.
“If he wasn’t foot faulting then he has a right to be upset, because there was a lot of them. But if he was, then you can’t do it. It’s not allowed,” said the Scot, who has been a semi-finalist in the last three years.
Murray will tackle Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus for a place in the last 16.
Meanwhile, Simon defended his controversial views on equal prize money which he opposes, claiming the men’s game is more attractive than the women’s and is more popular with the fans.
And he believes that the men’s locker room supports him but players are afraid to speak out.
“The 128 male players here think like me,” said Simon, who was knocked out of the tournament by Xavier Malisse in the second round.
“Maybe they can’t say it; maybe they won’t; maybe they will lose $2 million on the contracts. In the conversation in the locker room, for sure they agree with me. Trust me.”
Simon, who has never got beyond the quarter-finals of any Grand Slam, was lambasted by Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams, two of the women’s game’s superstars, after they had secured their places in the last 32.
Top seed Sharapova, the 2004 champion, had to dig deep to clinch a gritty 7-6 (7/3), 6-7 (3/7), 6-0 victory over Bulgaria’s Tsvetana Pironkova, a semi-finalist in 2010 and quarter-finalist last year.
She will next face Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-Wei as last year’s runner-up tries to reach the Wimbledon final for the third time.
Four-time champion Williams reached the third round with a 6-1, 6-4 demolition of Hungarian qualifier Melinda Czink and next faces Chinese 25th seed Zheng Jie, who she beat in the 2008 semi-finals, for a place in the last 16.
But instead of discussing their tournament prospects, the two All England Club A-listers aimed their fire at Simon.
“No matter what anyone says, or the criticisms that we get, despite everything else, I’m sure there are a few more people that watch my matches than his, so….,” said Sharapova in an ice-cold put down.
Williams backed up her title rival.
“She’s way hotter than he is, so more people will watch Maria,” said the American.
Defending champion Petra Kvitova and second seed Victoria Azarenka also reached the third round.