Rafa Nadal's bid to get back to top form before the French Open suffered a setback when he crashed to a 6-4, 7-6 defeat to 13th-seeded Italian Fabio Fognini in the third round of the Barcelona Open.

Nadal, the world number four and second-seed, produced an erratic performance on the clay in the Catalan capital and the big-hitting Fognini punished the Spaniard's errors to scupper Nadal's bid for a ninth Barcelona title.

Backed by a fiercely partisan crowd, Nadal saved three match points in the tiebreak before sending a forehand long on the fourth to hand Fognini victory.

After his 2014 season was wrecked by illness and injury, Nadal is looking to rediscover his dominance on the red dust before he makes a bid for a record-extending 10th French Open crown starting at the end of next month.

The Majorca native lost to world number one Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals of last week's Monte Carlo Masters and many are tipping the Serb to end his great rival's stranglehold at Roland Garros.

Elsewhere, defending champion Kei Nishikori eased past Santiago Giraldo of Colombia 6-2, 6-1 to reach the quarter-finals.

Nishikori beat Giraldo last year in straight sets at the Real Club de Tenis Barcelona to win his first clay-court title, and the top-seeded Japanese had little trouble repeating his victory after converting five of nine break points.

Results:

Tommy Robredo (Spain) beat Marcel Granollers (Spain) 6-2 6-2
Philipp Kohlschreiber (Germany) beat Benoit Paire (France) 6-4 7-6(6)
Fabio Fognini (Italy) beat Rafa Nadal (Spain) 6-4 7-6(6)
Pablo Andujar (Spain) beat Feliciano Lopez (Spain) 6-3 6-4
David Ferrer (Spain) beat Elias Ymer (Sweden) 6-3 6-4
Martin Klizan (Slovakia) beat Victor Estrella (Dominican Republic) 6-4 6-3
Roberto Bautista (Spain) beat Pablo Cuevas (Uruguay) 7-6(5) 6-2
Kei Nishikori (Japan) beat Santiago Giraldo (Colombia) 6-2 6-1

Source: Reuters