Madrid - A badly out of sorts Rafa Nadal crashed to his first defeat on clay in 23 matches when he was upset 6-3 3-6 7-5 by compatriot Fernando Verdasco in a thrilling third-round match at the Madrid Open on Thursday.
Nadal had beaten Verdasco, the 15th seed at his home town Masters event, in all 13 of their previous meetings but an error-strewn performance ended his bid for a third straight clay title this season and deprived him of a chance to avenge his defeat to Novak Djokovic in last year's final.
Verdasco broke his Davis Cup team mate's serve seven times on the blue clay of the Manolo Santana show court and clubbed 31 winners to his opponent's 19 to set up a last-eight clash against Tomas Berdych.
Nadal, the world number two and French Open champion, looked to be cruising to victory at 5-2 in the deciding set but twice faltered when serving for the match and Verdasco incredibly conjured another break when he converted his second match point with yet another crashing forehand. – Reuters