Martin Klizans remarkable run at the Barcelona Open continued in style as he dumped 12 seed Feliciano Lopez out in straight sets.
Nadal, the overwhelming favourite to lift an 11th title, had been mapped out to face two-time champion Kei Nishikori in round three before a quarter-final clash with Djokovic, but after the former retired and the latter crashed out, his draw seems – on paper at least – somewhat more favourable.
His compatriot Guillermo Garcia-Lopez will face him on Barcelonas main court aptly named Pista Rafael Nadal in honour of the great clay-court champion, later on Wednesday with the winner taking on the inspired Klizan.
The Slovak, who has seen his ranking drop to 140 in the world, stormed through qualifying before battling past Federico Delbonis and Djokovic before his latest victory over Queens champion Lopez.
Klizan has peaked at No. 24 on the ATP leader board and looked every bit as good as that former ranking as he stormed to a 6-1 6-4 win over the Spaniard.
And he may well get a shot at Lopezs compatriot Nadal – who is currently on a 38-set winning streak on clay – for a place in the semi-finals.