Rafael Nadal always felt at home on the clay courts at the Barcelona Open, and had a 41-match winning streak at the event to prove it.
But after facing countryman Nicolas Almagro in the quarter-finals, that streak has come to an end in a 2-6 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 loss for Nadal.
Almagro, who lost in the finals of the event last year to Nadal, avenged himself with an in a tough match against the top-seeded Rafa. It was the first time in 10 attempts that Almagro had beaten his fellow Spaniard.
“I had a lot of chances in the second set when I had the match more controlled but I didn’t take them,” said Nadal after the match, via AP interviews.
“As the match went on I was less calm but I still had openings in the third set at 3-1 and at 4-4 which I didn’t take. This is tennis and you just have to keep going.”
Nadal had not lost in the tournament since his 15-year old debut in 2003, and had not dropped a set in Barcelona since the 2008 final. Rafa is considered by many to be the greatest clay-court player of all time, but has had his struggles recently.
The six-seeded Almagro will now go on to face Santiago Giraldo in Saturday’s semi-final match.