Top seed Rafael Nadal was again extended to three sets, this time by two-time Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell champion Kei Nishikori before the Spaniard eventually prevailed 6-0, 2-6, 6-2 in their third-round encounter.
Firing off 21 winners, Nadal improved to 12-2 lifetime against Nishikori and 63-4 in Barcelona while he chases his 12th title in the Catalan.
Nadal comes through second straight three-setter
Despite the lopsided first set scoreline, the opening few games were close. After holding to 30, Nadal broke after Nishikori misfired on consecutive backhands.
After saving a pair of break points in his next service game, a second break soon followed to put the Spaniard up 4-0 and after Nishikori just missed long on a forehand, the first set was over in just half an hour.
The 2014 and 2015 champion was in desperate need of a turnaround and he got it, reeling off three straight games in the second set to hold a 3-1 advantage.
As Nadal did in the first set, Nishikori gained a double break and serving for the set at 5-2, he closed it out with a crosscourt forehand winner to level the match at one set all.
Pushed to a third set in consecutive matches for the first time ever at Barcelona, Nadal broke in the fourth game after Nishikori was wild with a forehand.
After saving break points to go in front 4-2, the top seed closed it out two games later on his second match point when he laced a forehand for a winner.