Juan Martin del Potro (Bio), seed number seven, hit top form today in the Shaghai Rolex Masters semi-final as he put in a superb performance against World no. 1 Rafael Nadal (Bio) to beat him for the first time after the US Open semi-final clash in 2009. The fifth-ranked Argentine dominated the majority of rallies with outstanding forehand shots thus preventing Rafa to get in control. In addition, 85% of Delpo’s first serves were on target in the opening set in which he stunningly broke the second seed Spaniard twice by 4-0. The latter nearly suffered the third loss of serve at 5-1, yet this time he bailed himself out by producing three winners in a row. That hardly bothered his opponent who served out the set o a high note, closing it out with a couple of aces.
Nadal opened the second set with a hold to love, but was still unable to turn the tide of the match as his rival went a set and a break up by 3-1. The self-confident Argentine athlete – he maintained high first serve percentage in the set two – rescued all six break points over the course of the encounter which enabled him to cross the finish line first after one hour and three quarters of play at the Quizhong Forest Arena. He won convincingly 6-2, 6-4 to secure his Shanghai final ticket as well as a spot in the up-coming ATP Finals in London. Del Potro reduced the head-to-head deficit against Nadal to 9-4 and will try to upset top seed Novak Djokovic in tomorrow’s title clash. Both players are still to suffer a defeat on the recent Asian tour as they lifted trophies in Tokyo and Beijing, respectively.
“I played so solid all the time, hitting the ball so hard,” del Potro said. “I saw Rafa playing very far off the baseline, which is good for my game, for my serve, and confidence. That’s the way to beat this guy.”
“He played amazing. I just congratulate him,” Nadal commented on the defeat. “Very few times I play against a player with a level like today…I really go home with the feeling that I didn’t play bad. That’s the thing. It is fair to say that. I am humble enough to say that I played well and I lost 6-2, 6-4.”