London – Rafael Nadal avenged his shock 2012 Wimbledon defeat to Lukas Rosol with a tense and hard-fought 4-6, 7-6 (8/6), 6-4, 6-4 win over the big-hitting Czech.
World number one Nadal did it the hard way, however, dropping the first set and then trailing 2-4 in the second before then having to save a set point in the tiebreaker.
But the 2008 and 2010 champion, who lost in the first round to Steve Darcis in 2013, wrapped up a place in the third round for the first time since 2011 on a third match point.
His mighty roar and extravagant fist pump at the moment of victory, which shook Centre Court to the core, spoke volumes as the hurt and humiliation of two years ago was finally vanquished.
“I tried to keep fighting and waited for my moment,” said Nadal, after dropping the first set for the second time in two matches at this year's Wimbledon.
“I saved a set point in the tiebreaker which was very important because to be two sets down to a big server like Rosol would have been very dangerous.”
Nadal, who next faces Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan, finished with 35 winners to Rosol's carefree hammering of 50, but crucially the Spanish winner of 14 Grand Slam titles gave up just nine unforced errors in the 2hr 44min encounter.
“I don't think in terms of revenge,” insisted Nadal. “All matches are different. When I lost in 2012 it was because the opponent played better.
“It doesn't matter if it's Rosol or any other player, the goal is to play as well as possible. Now I feel a little tired, there was a lot of tension but I played great towards the end.”
Rosol fired eight aces and 13 winners in the first set with Nadal allowed a meagre five points off the big Czech's serve.
The 28-year-old, now ranked 52 in the world compared to his 100
at the time of his 2012 seismic triumph, broke for 5-4 and claimed the opener with a perfect love game.
Not for the first time in his bitter-sweet Wimbledon career, Nadal was staring at another All England Club humiliation.
He slipped 2-4 down in the second set and had to save a set point in the tiebreaker before Rosol cracked, serving up a double fault which put Nadal back on level terms.
Rosol was broken in the third game of the third set as Nadal took a stranglehold on the match and was quickly a break to the good for 1-0 in the fourth as the Czech's engine suffered a drastic and sudden loss of power.
Nadal needed three match points to take the victory which was secured when Rosol hit long.
Elsewhere, Canadian eighth seed Milos Raonic reached the third round for the first time with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 win over Jack Sock of the United States and goes on to face 2013 quarter-finalist Lukasz Kubot of Poland.
Kubot beat Serbia's Dusan Lajovic 6-7 (4/7), 7-6 (7/4), 6-3, 7-6 (7/3).
Japanese 10th seed Kei Nishikori also moved into the third round with a 6-3, 6-2, 6-1 thrashing of American qualifier Denis Kudla courtesy of 40 winners.
The 24-year-old will next play Italian lucky loser Simone Bolelli, who put out German 22nd seed Philipp Kohlschreiber 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 2-6, 7-5.
Czech 20-year-old Jiri Vesely stunned France's Gael Monfils (FRA) 7-6 (7/3), 6-3, 6-7 (1/7), 6-7 (3/7), 6-4.
Vesely will face teenager Nick Kyrgios of Australia who saved nine match points in a 3-6, 6-7 (4/7), 6-4, 7-5, 10-8 victory over French 13th seed Richard Gasquet, a 2007 semi-finalist.
Five-time women's champion Serena Williams handed South Africa's Chanelle Scheepers a 49-minute thrashing to race into the third round with a 6-1, 6-1 victory.
Top seed Williams next faces French 25th seed Alize Cornet.
The 32-year-old American, a 17-time Grand Slam champion, overwhelmed Scheepers with 26 winners, compared to five from the world number 94, and eight aces.
Serb 11th seed Ana Ivanovic defeated China's Zheng Jie 6-4, 6-0
to avenge her defeat of four years ago.
A few weeks after capturing her lone Grand Slam title at the 2008 French Open, and in her first tournament as world number one, Ivanovic fell to Zheng in straight sets in the third round of Wimbledon.
Zheng went on to become the first Chinese to reach a Grand Slam semi-final.
Later Thursday, seven-time champion Roger Federer takes on 31-year-old Luxembourg qualifier Gilles Muller while Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka, the fifth seed, was facing Lu Yen-Hsun of Taiwan who made the quarter-finals in 2010.
Wawrinka is bidding to record back-to-back match-wins at Wimbledon for the first time since 2009.
Maria Sharapova, the 2004 champion, takes on Switzerland's Timea Bacsinszky. – Sapa-AFP