Nicolas Almagro ended Rafael Nadal's 41-match winning streak at Barcelona Open
Rafael Nadal suffered his first defeat at the Barcelona Open since 2003, losing 2-6 7-6 6-4 to Nicolas Almagro.
Last Updated: 25/04/14 11:11pm
Nadal was on a 41-match winning streak at the venue and bidding for his ninth title in 10 years - he missed the 2010 tournament - but instead was beaten by fellow Spaniard Almagro for the first time in 11 career meetings.
His lone previous defeat in Barcelona came on his debut as a 15-year-old and it looked like normal service as Nadal broke Almagro's serve three times on the way to taking the first set.
Nadal didn't face a break point during the second set but Almagro saved five on his own delivery and then took the tie-break 7-5.
Sixth seed Almagro, who lost to Nadal in last year's final, broke three times in the decider and closed out a long-awaited victory over his compatriot in two hours and 47 minutes.
"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, who also lost in the quarter-finals of last week's Monte Carlo Masters to David Ferrer.
"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."
Nadal's preparations for the defence of his French Open title will continue in the coming weeks in Madrid and Rome, two of the 10 tournaments he won in 2013 after a seven-month injury lay-off.
World No 20 Almagro's reward is a semi-final against Colombia's Santiago Giraldo.
"This victory could mark a turning point in my career. It is a victory against the best player in history on this surface," said Almagro.
"In the first set it was more difficult for me. He kept me far behind the baseline and I couldn't find a solution. After that, though, I started to believe in my backhand a bit more to counter his forehand."
Giraldo progressed when his quarter-final opponent Philipp Kohlschreiber was forced to retire during the second set.
German Kohlschreiber lost the first set 6-4 and trailed 4-3 in the second when he could no longer continue.
In the other semi-final, fourth seed Kei Nishikori will take on ninth seed Ernests Gulbis.
Japan's Nishikori saw off 12th-seeded Croat Marin Cilic 6-1 6-3, while Latvian Gulbis was a 6-1 6-4 winner over Russia's Teymuraz Gabashvili.