Nicolas Almagro has knocked out number one seed Rafael Nadal in the quarter-finals of the Barcelona Open on Friday.
It is the first time that eight-time champion Nadal has been beaten at the tournament since 2003, and he was bidding to win a record ninth title on the clay-court surface.
In what will be remembered as one of the most significant victories of the 28-year-old Almagro’s career, he battled back from a set down to beat his Spanish compatriot 2-6, 7-6, 6-4.
The world number 20 finally managed to taste victory against the Mallorcan in their 11th meeting, Nadal’s defeat follows David Ferrer’s shock exit in Thursday, when the number two seed was beaten by world number 55 Teymuraz Gabashvili in the third round.
The “King of Clay” as he is also known, has struggled to be as dominant on the red dirt so far this year, as he was beaten by Ferrer in the quarter-finals of the Monte Carlo Masters.
His last defeat at the Barcelona Open before Almagro’s victory was at the age of 15, when he was beaten by fellow Spaniard Alex Corretja.
He managed to win his 44th consecutive set at the tournament 6-2, and he seemed to be on his way towards a comfortable win.
But Amlagro fought back in the second set, which lasted for one hour and ten minutes, and was settled by a tie-break, which Almagro edged 7-5 to take the match to a deciding set.
An early break for Nadal in the third set gave him the advantage, but Almagro then won three straight games from 3-1 down, putting him on the home straight for victory.
But nadal broke back immediately to make it 4-4, but then surprisingly lost his next service game to love to leave his opponent within touching distance of the win.
It was a tense final game of the match, and Almagro had to fight back from 15-40 down in a game where he was forced to save three break points, but he sealed the win with his first match point, Almagro will now face either Philipp Kohlschreiber or Santiago Girlado on Saturday for a place in Sunday’s final, and should he get there he will come up against the winner of the other semi-final between Ernests Gulbis and Kei Nishikori.
He will fancy his chances of winning his 13th ATP singles title, and all 12 of his previous tournament victories have come on clay.
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