French Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka was scythed back to earth by big-serving South African Kevin Anderson on the Queen's Club grass as the Swiss bowed out of the Aegon Championships 7-6(4), 7-6(11) on Wednesday.
The two-metre tall Anderson hurled down 22 aces, the last one on match point, to send Wawrinka spinning to his first loss since he beat world number one Novak Djokovic in spellbinding fashion in the Roland Garros final earlier this month.
Anderson, the world number 17, now has four consecutive wins against Wawrinka, the first of that sequence being the Swiss's first loss after he won the 2014 Australian Open. "That's a funny coincidence," Anderson, who is in the process of taking out dual US citizenship, told reporters after moving into the quarter-finals. "I've just played these guys a lot of times, and I think it gives me confidence, knowing the guy I beat today just won the French Open and I watched him playing and beat the best players in the world doing it.
"A lot of things I have worked on came to fruition today."
Wawrinka, the second seed at the prestigious Wimbledon curtain-raiser who needed only 49 minutes to beat Nick Kyrgios on Tuesday, did not play badly. But even his lethal backhand could make no impression on the mighty Anderson serve.
He fought hard, saving five match points and he missed a golden opportunity to win the second set before succumbing. Wawrinka will rue the two set points he failed to convert on the Anderson delivery at 6-5 in the opening set but even more so the two he had in a drawn-out second set tiebreak after recovering from 6-3 down. The forehand he sprayed wide at 11-10 when the court was at his mercy produced a look of disbelief.
"Not my day with tiebreaks," Wawrinka, who lost two more later with doubles partner Grigor Dimitrov, said. "He was serving big, and especially really close to the line, really touching the zone. It was tough for me."
Seventh seeded Frenchman Gilles Simon earlier beat Australian teenager Thanasi Kokkinakis 6-4, 6-2 despite losing the first nine points of the match. Simon will face Milos Raonic in the quarter-finals after the Canadian third seed beat Richard Gasquet 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-1 despite still feeling some discomfort from the surgery he had on a nerve in his foot that caused him to miss the French Open.
"It's very unpredictable, so pretty much every other day I'm in constant contact with the doctor that did the procedure," he said. "I'm in constant care of the physio that I travel with."
Spain's Guillermo Garcia-Lopez also advanced to the next round with a 6-3, 7-6(4) win over Ukraine's Alexandr Dolgopolov.