London – Wimbledon was engulfed by scandal Thursday 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.
“In my whole life, ever since I was eight years old, I didn't do this many foot faults. It was like 11.
“The whole credibility of this tournament went down for me. I'm angry about it, a little bit pissed, because 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.
Andy Roddick, a three-time runner-up, went through to the last 32 with a 6-3, 7-6 (7/1), 6-3 win over Germany's Bjorn Phau and will face Spanish seventh seed David Ferrer who put out France's Kenny De Schepper 7-6 (7/1), 6-2, 6-4.
Women's ninth seed Marion Bartoli of France, the runner-up to Venus Williams in 2007, was knocked out by Croatian qualifier Mirjana Lucic, 6-4, 6-3.
Lucic was a semi-finalist in 1999 before her career and personal life went into a tailspin. But, at 30, she is enjoying a new lease of life on the tour.
Second seed Victoria Azarenka reached the third round with a 6-2, 6-0 win over Switzerland's Romina Oprandi.
Kei Nishikori, the 19th seed, became the first Japanese man to reach the third round for 17 years by beating France's Florent Serra 6-3, 7-5, 6-2.
Later Thursday, world number two Rafaal Nadal, the champion in 2008 and 2010, takes on Lukas Rosol for a place in the last 16
while women's defending champion Petra Kvitova, the fourth seed, meets Britain's Elena Blatacha. – Sapa-AFP