Barcelona - World number one Rafael Nadal has suffered his first defeat in Barcelona
since 2003 on Friday when compatriot Nicolas Almagro ended his 41-match
winning run in the Spanish city.
Top seed Nadal, the eight-time
champion, lost 2-6, 7-6 (7/5), 6-4 to Almagro in a quarter-final lasting
13 minutes short of three hours.
Nadal, who lost in the Monte
Carlo Masters quarter-finals to David Ferrer last week, had last been
beaten in Barcelona when he was just 15 years old.
defeat, 27-year-old Nadal refused to panic with the defence of his
French Open crown starting in just a month's time.
He said losing a
tennis match was nothing in comparison to the death of former Barcelona
football coach Tito Vilanova who lost his battle with cancer at the age
of 45 on Friday.
"To lose is not a drama. What has happened to
Tito Vilanova is. We are left with his example and I send my support to
his family," said Nadal.
He added: "I was better in parts of the match, but sport is like that. It was my turn to lose and I congratulate Nico."
will next defend his Madrid and Rome Masters claycourt titles -- two of
the 10 tournaments he won in 2013 after a seven-month injury lay-off.
He could lose his world number one ranking with Novak Djokovic set to pounce.
victory was 28-year-old Almagro's first over Nadal in 11 meetings, a
series which included a straight sets loss in the 2013 Barcelona final.
needed two match points to secure his shock triumph while surviving 47
unforced errors. The sixth seed had also been a break down in the
Nadal's last defeat at the tournament was in the
second round to compatriot Alex Corretja in 2003 before he skipped the
2004 event through injury.
His loss of the second set to Almagro on Friday was the first he had dropped at the Real Club de Tenis since 2008.
That ended a run of 44 consecutive sets.
"Winning the last point I felt happy for all of my team," said Almagro who broke Nadal three times in the final set.
He had trailed 3-1 in the decider and had been 3-1 down in the second set tiebreaker.
"This victory could mark a turning point in my career. Now I need to prepare for tomorrow's match."
Almagro, the world number 20, will face Santiago Giraldo of Colombia for a place in the final.
went through when Germany's Philipp Kohlschreiber retired with a left
thigh injury while trailing 4-3 in the second set having dropped the
Japan's Kei Nishikori continued his impressive return
to action after a three week absence due to a groin injury as he beat
12th seed Marin Cilic 6-1, 6-3 to reach the semi-finals.
Nishikori, seeded fourth, was ruthless in the opening set as he broke the big Croat's serve three times.
second set was more of a contest, but the world number 17 still had too
much as he sealed victory in just over an hour to register his best
ever run in Barcelona.
Next up for Nishikori will be a meeting
with Latvian ninth seed Ernests Gulbis after he secured a third
semi-final appearance of the season with a 6-1, 6-4 win over Russia's
Results from the ATP Barcelona Open on Friday (x denotes seeding):
Nicolas Almagro (ESP x 6) bt Rafael Nadal (ESP x1) 2-6, 7-6 (7/5) 6-4
Santiago Giraldo (COL) bt Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER x10) 6-4, 4-3 - retired
Ernests Gulbis (LAT x9) bt Teimuraz Gabashvili (RUS) 6-1, 6-4
Kei Nishikori (JPN x4) bt Marin Cilic (CRO x12) 6-1, 6-3