Rafael Nadal arrived at the 2014 Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell quarter-finals on a 41-match winning streak at the event, and he was also the World No. 1. The lefty had won all 10 of his previous ATP Head2Head matches against his opponent, Nicolas Almagro. In those clashes, Almagro claimed only two sets.
Almagro carried no apprehension into their battle, and it paid dividends. Despite losing the first set, Almagro rallied for a 2-6, 7-6(5), 6-4 victory to end the top seed’s Barcelona winning streak.
“It was tough because the court was a little bit windy and it’s really difficult to play with those kind of conditions,” Almagro told Tennis TV. “But I think I played really good tennis with a lot of power and I was very focussed. Finally I beat Rafa. The last game was really tough. Many things were in my head. I’m very happy.”
Almagro had previously lost against Nadal in Barcelona twice — in the 2006 semi-finals and the 2013 final.
“You try to think in another part of your tennis. It is better not to think about that kind of statistic,” Almagro said. “I think the last times I played really tough matches and I had many chances. I tried to play my tennis and finally I could beat him.”
Nadal seemed in control after taking the first set. Even with Almagro winning the match, Nadal won eight more points than his countryman (110-102). But Almagro hung on under pressure, saving 13 of the 18 break points he faced before ultimately triumphing in two hours and 47 minutes.
“It’s the sport, that’s it, nothing else. Obviously it’s not the happiest day for me, but obviously I never felt that I was going to win here so many matches in a row,” Nadal said. “That’s part of this sport. Today was not my day. I felt that I did a lot of things well to win the match. But at the end remained a little bit [short], and that’s it. [I] just [have to] accept the situation and keep fighting.”
Almagro lost in the semi-finals against Colombian Santiago Giraldo, but he left Barcelona with a victory to remember. Almagro retired in April 2019, and he’d never win another match against Nadal, who dominated their rivalry 15-1.
“I’m very happy with my tennis today,” Almagro said. “I think I played a really good match against the best player on that surface and that victory could be a really important victory in my career.”