SHANGHAI ROLEX MASTERS 2013
Del Potro Stuns Nadal To Clinch London Berth
by Josh Meiseles|
Juan Martin del Potro has secured a berth in the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals with a 6-2, 6-4 upset of World No. 1 Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals of the Shanghai Rolex Masters on Saturday. The runner-up in 2009, Del Potro will make his fourth appearance in the season finale, joining Nadal, Novak Djokovic and David Ferrer at the O2 arena in London.
Del Potro is thrilled to have punched his ticket to the year-end championships. "I qualify for London. It's amazing to close the year playing in London with the other seven guys."
The 6’6” Argentine earned his first victory over Nadal in over four years, exacting revenge on the Spaniard after he was denied his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown in the Indian Wells final earlier this year.
Del Potro took the initiative from the onset, breaking Nadal in the first game of the match and never relinquishing his lead. He employed an aggressive brand of tennis, putting the pressure on Nadal with great depth, pace and precision from the baseline and utilising the fast conditions at the Qizhong Forest Arena to his advantage.
"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 Tandil native would secure a second break for a 4-0 lead in the first set and go on to punctuate the set with an ace, taking it 6-2. Del Potro would stave off a pair of break points early in the second set and immediately break again for 2-1 behind an impressive shot-making display. The World No. 5 fought off all six break points faced in the match, firing 28 winners and winning 66 per cent of service points.
"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."
"He played amazing. I just congratulate him," Nadal said in 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."
Just three match wins shy of 300, del Potro will now face top seed Novak Djokovic for the Shanghai title, in what will be his fifth final of 2013 and third at the Masters 1000 level in his career. Djokovic ousted Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in straight sets in Saturday’s first semi-final.
Djokovic owns a 9-3 edge in the FedEx ATP Head2Head against del Potro with the Serb prevailing in their most recent meeting, a five set thriller in the Wimbledon semi-finals this year. Both players enter the final with undefeated records on Asian soil on the line, with Djokovic having won the title in Beijing last week and del Potro claiming victory in Tokyo. With his win in Tokyo, the Argentine ascended to the Top 5 in the Emirates ATP Rankings for the first time since 2010.