Fourth seed Juan Martin del Potro (Player Profile) picked up a shocking upset win over Rafael Nadal (Player Profile) earlier today to hand the World No. 1 only his second hard court loss of the season. It was a surprisingly dominant performance from Del Potro, who beat the Spaniard 6-2, 6-4 to advance comfortably into the Shanghai Rolex Masters finals. Considering the Argentine had lost to Nadal in their last five matches, including the finals at Indian Wells earlier this year, it is an outstanding achievement and a telling sign for things to come in 2014.
“Always when you beat the No. 1 player of the world, you feel something special in your mind, feelings,” del Potro added. “It’s one moment so good to explain with words. I’m so happy, so excited to enjoy a little bit of this match.”
The Argentine is coming off an outstanding title win in Tokyo last week and carried forth the momentum of his unbeaten streak over onto Stadium Court in Shanghai, where he played some remarkable tennis to outclass the resurgent Nadal. His recent performances have seen him rejoin the ATP top 5 for the first time since 2010.
“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.”
The win also guarantees Del Potro a spot in the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in November, marking his fourth appearance in the year-end championships. The World No. 5 has generally produced some of his best tennis at the Tour Finals, having reached the semifinals in 2012 (lost to Djokovic) and the finals in 2009 (lost to Nikolay Davydenko).
“I qualify for London. It’s amazing to close the year playing in London with the other seven guys.”
Del Potro will now face defending champion Novak Djokovic in the finals in Shanghai. It is his fifth tour final and his second Masters final of the season. The Argentine will look to snap Djokovic’s 19-match win streak in China and secure his fourth title of the season and his first win over Djokovic since the semifinals of the Indian Wells Masters this year. The two also took part in one of the greatest semifinal matches in Wimbledon history this year, playing five thrilling sets before Djokovic broke ahead to reach the final.
A win tomorrow would be a significant one for Juan Martin, as he continues his quest to prove his worthiness amongst the sport’s elite competitors. He has shown that he can complicate matters for the best players in the world, and that on his best day, he is able to slay giants such as Nadal, Federer and Djokovic. If Del Potro can end his season with a several more dominant performances, he will likely become a Grand Slam contender in 2014.
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