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Rafael Nadal’s clay-court reign under threat after Almagro defeat

The world number one knocked out in quarter-finals of Barcelona Open

Rafael Nadal’s clay-court domination was further eroded yesterday when the world No 1 was beaten by Nicolas Almagro in the quarter-finals of the Barcelona Open. Nadal, who was aiming to win the title for the ninth time in 10 years, went down 2-6, 7-6, 6-4.

Nadal had won all 10 of his previous meetings with Almagro, who will next play the winner of last night’s quarter-final between Santiago Giraldo and Philipp Kohlschreiber. In the other semi-final Ernests Gulbis will face Kei Nishikori.

Maria Sharapova closed in on a third successive triumph in Stuttgart when she beat top seed Agnieszka Radwanska, 6-4, 6-3. Sharapova, who has not won a tournament since Stuttgart last year, meets Sara Errani in the semi-finals.

Meanwhile, a Wimbledon Centre Court debenture for 2016-20, which secures one ticket for all 13 days of the Championships over the five years, will cost £50,000, £22,250 more than 2011-15.

The issue of 2,500 debentures could bring in more than £100m to the All England Club to go towards an outstanding £35m loan to build the Centre Court roof  and help finance a retractable roof over No 1 Court.