Bernard Tomic has blocked out the latest controversy swirling around him to move into the third round at Wimbledon.
Tomic eased past Moldovan qualifier Radu Albot 7-6 (7-3) 6-3 6-7 (6-8) 6-3 to set up a clash on Saturday with 14th seed Roberto Bautista-Agut.
The 19th seed’s win comes a day after he upset British learning disability charity Mencap for saying he felt “like a retard” waiting on court for eight minutes for his second-round opponent to arrive.
Tomic said he understood that Fernando Verdasco was running late because he was getting taped up in the dressing room.
“Yeah, I did get to the court prior to him very early and unfortunately I had to stand on court like a retard,” he said.
Mencap is demanding an apology from the Australian No.2.
But if the backlash from his slip of the tongue proved any distraction it didn’t show as Tomic kept cool under pressure to end the qualifier’s run with a composed display on Thursday.
“It was a dogfight and I needed to give everything out there,” Tomic said after fighting back from a break down in the fourth set to advance.
Hoping to make the last 16 for the third time, Tomic is expecting a tough time against Bautista-Agut.
“He plays similar to the guy that I played today,” Tomic said.
“He competes well, he’s an amazing mover and that’s why he’s close to top 10.
“He’s at a career-high ranking now of around 13 or 14 and I heard he got a default today so energy-wise he’ll be a lot better than me.”
Tomic is the first Australian into the last 32, but qualifier Matt Barton will have the chance to join him after completing an epic five-set first-round win over Frenchman Albano Olivetti in a rain-marred match that started back on Tuesday.
Barton defied 56 aces from Olivetti to land his precious first main-draw win at a grand slam with 6-7 (7-9) 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 6-7 (5-7) 14-12 victory.
The 24-year-old’s reward is a tilt on Saturday at 18th seed John Isner, another towering big server.
But Australia’s top-ranked player is out of the championships after women’s 14th seed Samantha Stosur succumbed 6-4 6-2 to German grasscourt specialist Sabine Lisicki.
Runner-up in 2013 and a semi-finalist on three other occasions, Lisicki once again rose to the occasion to eliminate Stosur in just 70 minutes with a blaze of winners and unreturnable serves.
Stosur was philosophical in defeat after once again failing to back up another fine run to the French Open semi-finals with her 14th first-week loss at the All England Club.
“Look, when you are playing a player who’s playing very well, you have to find a way to do anything you can. I felt like I did that,” she said.
“I tried my hardest.”
Daria Gavrilova plays 19th seed Dominika Cibulkova later on Thursday in her second-round encounter.