Rafael Nadal reached the final of the inaugural Shanghai Masters 1000 in 2009, losing to Nikolay Davydenko. The Spaniard suffered early losses in Shanghai in 2010 and 2011, skipping the event in 2012 and reaching the semi-final a year later.
Nadal got rid of Alexandr Dolgopolov, Carlos Berlocq and Stan Wawrinka to prepare for the semi-final clash against Juan Martin del Potro. It was his twelfth meeting, and the Argentine recorded his fourth win over the Spaniard, beating Rafa 6-2, 6-4 in one hour and 46 minutes.
Del Potro beat Philipp Kohlschreiber in the opener and dispatched Nicolás Almagro in the quarters for Nadal to face, beating the No. 2 seed for the first time after three straight wins in 2009. Del Potro served at 80% and turned down calls. six break chances he had. He had to put pressure on Nadal.
The Argentine made three breaks from 11 chances and secured a spot in his third Masters 1000 final and second of the season. The Argentine controlled rallies with more winners and unforced errors, outplaying his higher-ranked opponent in crucial moments to seal the deal in straight sets.
Nadal suffered a break in the first game of the match when his forehand found the net. He rallied and created a break chance in game two which Del Potro parried with a forehand winner to cement the lead and open a 2-0 gap.
Rafa fended off three break point opportunities with game winners in the third game. Juan Martín hit a right cross in the fourth game that forced his rival to make an error and put him up 3-0. Nadal conceded a setback in game four to fall 4-0.
Steve Flink on Federer and Nadal
American sports journalist and historian Steve Flink shed light on the uniqueness of the rivalry between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. «There were some unavoidable difficult moments, like the 2006 Italian Open final, where Roger felt that Toni Nadal was talking too much.
But they got through those times so easily and so quickly,» Flink said. «I think their respect for competing for the most prestigious awards. When you play three French Open finals in a row and those same years you are playing the Wimbledon finals, there was never anything like that.
How can they not respect each other if each is good enough to make it to the final on each other’s surface? So I think it kind of cemented in that moment, the immense mutual respect that they have for each other,” he stated.