BARCELONA: Fourteen-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal described his performance as “awful” as he crashed out of the Barcelona Open 6-4, 7-6 (8/6) to Italian Fabio Fognini on Thursday (Friday in Manila).
Despite losing to world number one Novak Djokovic in the semifinals of the Monte Carlo Masters last week, Nadal came to the Catalan capital in high spirits after playing the best tennis of his season to date.
However, the eight-time champion was stunned for the second consecutive year in Barcelona as Fognini edged a tight first set before fighting back from a break down three times in the second to seal victory in a tie-break.
“My play was awful and I didn’t deserve to win,” said Nadal.
Nadal sat out almost the entire second-half of last season because of injury and illness and has struggled to recover his form since the turn of the year.
The Spaniard has just one title to his name this season in Buenos Aires and his only victory over a top-10 player through seven tournaments came against David Ferrer in Monte Carlo.
The nine-time French Open champion was also beaten on clay in Rio de Janeiro by Fognini earlier this year.