In 2009, Rafael Nadal lost to Nikolay Davydenko in the Shanghai Masters 1000‘s inaugural final. The Spaniard lost his opening matches in Shanghai in 2010 and 2011, skipped the competition in 2012, and made it to the semifinals the following year.
Stan Wawrinka, Carlos Berlocq, and Alexandr Dolgopolov were all defeated by Rafael Nadal in order to face Juan Martin del Potro in the semifinals. In their 12th encounter, the Argentine defeated Rafa 6-2, 6-4 in an hour and 46 minutes to earn his fourth win over the Spaniard.
Del Potro defeated the No. 2 seed for the first time in 2009 after winning three straight matches, defeating Philipp Kohlschreiber in the first match and Nicolás Almagro in the quarterfinals before facing Nadal. Del Potro applied pressure on Nadal by serving at 80% and declining his six break chances.
The Argentine advanced to his third Masters 1000 final of the season with three breaks out of 11 opportunities. The Argentine won more rallies and committed less unforced errors than his higher-ranked opponent, outperforming them at critical times to win in straight sets.
When his forehand hit the goal in the opening game of the match, Nadal was broken. In the second game, he rallied and set up a break opportunity, which del Potro parried with a forehand winner to secure the lead and establish a 2-0 advantage.
Three break attempts were thwarted by Rafa in the third game with victories. In the fourth game, Juan Martin made a right cross that caused his opponent to make a mistake and gave him a 3-0 lead. Nadal lost the fourth game and now trails 4-0.
Steve Flink on Nadal and Federer
Steve Flink, an American sports historian and journalist, provided insight into the peculiar nature of the rivalry between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. “Unavoidably, there were some challenging times, such as the 2006 Italian Open final when Roger thought Toni Nadal was talking too much.
But they moved past those instances so quickly and painlessly, “Flink remarked. “I believe they have respect for those who compete for the most prestigious awards. There has never been anything like it—playing three consecutive French Open finals while also competing in Wimbledon finals.
Given that each man is competent enough to compete in the finals, how can you not appreciate one another? Therefore, I believe that in some respects, the enormous regard they had for one another was established at that moment “He declared.