Nadal, twice Wimbledon champion, was blown off court by the explosive serving of Nick Kyrgios, a 19-year-old Australian who is ranked 144th in the world. Kyrgios - who proved his mother wrong by overcoming the Spaniard - served 37 aces as he won 7-6 (7-5), 5-7, 7-6 (7-5), 6-3 in front of an enthralled Centre Court crowd.
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He also had the audacity to fire a winner from between his legs as Nadal, who has lost in the first and second rounds of the last two Wimbledons, again headed home to Mallorca before the business end of the tournament. "Congratulations to him. For me, beach," said Nadal, who admitted he could not read the serve of the Australian.
He was philosophical about the pounding he endured for almost three hours. He said his previous two failures at Wimbledon had been down to physical problems but said of yesterday's loss: "This year I felt the knee was right to compete here. I competed. I think I competed well. It was not enough today, but that's it. That's the sport. Opponent better than me. Life continues.
"I going to go to Mallorca, have some weeks off with the great weather there, enjoying with the family, with the friends some holidays."
Kyrgios, who lost in the first round of a Challenger tournament earlier this month, now faces Milos Raonic of Canada in the quarter-finals. The Australian, who has won only five matches at Tour level this season, four of them at Wimbledon, revealed his mother had expressed the opinion that Nadal might be too good for him.
"It actually made me a bit angry. I just believed in myself that I could create some opportunities. I took them under pressure today," he said, adding that he had not yet spoken to his mother but was planning to send her a text with a smiley face.
There were no smiles on the faces of the Williams sisters when Venus and Serena were forced to quit a doubles match. Serena, 32, held her head in her hands as she was examined by medical staff ahead of the match and later said she had been suffering from a virus.
The second-round doubles match against Kristina Barrois and Stefanie Voegele was put off for more than 10 minutes while she sat in her sideline chair and appeared to wipe her eyes as her blood pressure was checked.
On her first service game, Serena then delivered four consecutive double faults as the sisters lost the third game of the match, prompting the end. In a statement issued last night, Serena said: "I really wanted to compete, but this bug just got the best of me."
Sharapova, the French Open champion, has also failed in her bid to repeat her Wimbledon triumph of 10 years ago, losing in three sets to Angelique Kerber, of Germany.
The 27-year-old Russian could, though, be back on Centre Court today. But this time only in the players' box as her boyfriend, Grigor Dimitrov, plays Andy Murray in the quarter-finals of the men's championships.