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By Chris Oddo | Friday, April 25, 2014

 
Nicolas Almagro

Nicolas Almagro shocked world No. 1 Rafael Nadal on Friday, ending the Spaniard's 41-match winning streak at Barcelona, 2-6, 7-6(5), 6-4.

Photo Source: Sky Sports

Rafael Nadal lost another piece of his suddenly shrinking clay-court empire on Friday, as the eight-time Barcelona champion was stunned by his longtime whipping boy Nicolas Almagro in three rollicking sets, 2-6, 7-6(5), 6-4.

Statisfaction: Rafael Nadal's Barcelona Domination

The victory marks Almagro's first career triumph in 11 tries against Nadal, and it ends Nadal's 41-match winning streak at the tournament he has dominated since first winning the title in 2005.

It didn't look to be Almagro's day from the beginning. After dropping the first set 6-2, the 28-year-old struggled mightily to keep afloat in the second. Almagro went to the well early and often to save all five break points he faced in the set, and when he got to the tiebreaker he made good on his opportunities, planting a backhand on the line at 5-all that Nadal couldn't handle to earn a set point, then lashing a forehand winner to force the decider.

The second set, in and of itself, was a milestone for Almagro. He'd only won two sets in his 10 previous encounters with Nadal, and he'd lost his last 13 to the king of clay; but what would come to fruition in the decider would be far more noteworthy.




Though Nadal took the early 3-1 lead by breaking to love in the fourth game, it would be just the beginning of a wild flurry of break points and back-and-forth momentum swings that heightened the tension as the match worked its way to a conclusion.

Almagro would storm back to win the next three games for a 4-3 lead.

Nadal would break on his third break point in the next game, forcing an Almagro forehand error for 4-all.

But Nadal's momentum would be curtailed immediately as the world No. 1 was broken to love in the ninth game.

Surprisingly, service breaks were a recurring theme for Nadal in this match, as he managed to win only one of nine second serve points in the final set, and he managed only 13 of 30 points on serve in the decider overall.

Though Almagro coughed and hissed a bit at the finish line while serving for his first career victory over a reigning world No. 1, Nadal was also surprisingly tight at the finish. Nadal earned double-break point in the final game, but missed his backhand return well wide on the first chance before netting a down-the-line forehand attempt on the second.

After an ace down the T gave Almagro his first match point, it was Almagro's turn to let his nerves take over, and he missed a backhand wide. Nadal earned a third break point when Almagro missed another backhand on the next point, but Almagro steadied to save it with a swing volley winner.

After another Nadal return error, Almagro would take matters into his own hands on his second match point. He ripped a clean forehand down-the-line winner to close out the colossal upset in two hours and 47 minutes.

 

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