Flashback to Shanghai: Roger Federer defeats Rafael Nadal and wins the championship.

In Miami in 2005, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer faced off in the inaugural Masters 1000 final. Two opponents competed in Shanghai for another Masters 1000 championship twelve and a half years later. Their final title match was their 38th match together on the Tour.

In a strong performance, Roger defeated Rafa 15 times, winning 6-4, 6-3 in 72 minutes. The second in Shanghai following 2014, it was Roger’s 94th ATP championship and 27th at the Masters 1000 level. Federer extended his career-best winning streak over Nadal by defeating the greatest opponent for the sixth time in a row since Basel 2015!

The indoor setting and one of the quickest hard courts on the Tour allowed Roger to defeat Rafa and prevent Nadal from winning his maiden Shanghai championship. For the Spaniard, who had won his previous 16 matches dating back to the US Open, it was a crucial match.

He pursued the maiden Shanghai title and hoped to clinch the year’s top spot, only to suffer a crushing defeat. Federer began the match in aggressive mode as was predicted; he took the ball early and kept the points on his racquet practically constantly.

His serve was flawless, and his groundstrokes were as impressive in their performance in preventing unforced errors. Like he did earlier in the season, Roger was also in the safety zone with his backhand.

The Swiss were successful in serving at 68%, losing eight points in eight service games while gaining the right to attack the return and apply consistent pressure to Nadal. Although the Spaniard received 74% of his first serves in, he only managed to earn a reasonable amount of service points.

He was outmatched in the exchanges and came away from the match with just five victories from the court due to his inability to handle Roger’s deep returns and impose his strokes with the opening groundstroke. Nadal‘s backhand was well below what it usually is.

He never gave off the impression of being a player who could have changed the outcome in his favor—not when up against the competitor who developed a masterful game plan and executed it flawlessly. The Swiss did more than enough on the return to create seven break chances and convert three of them to end the match successfully with no deuces in Roger’s games.

21 service victories were shared by both players. However, Nadal‘s issue was that his initial stroke was his best effort rather than the Spanish juggernaut’s typical path to victory. With 17 winners (nine forehands and five from his backhand wing), Roger outperformed the rest of the field, leaving Nadal in the dust and widening the gap in that division.

Rafael Nadal was defeated by Roger Federer to capture the 2017 Shanghai championship.

Considering his aggression, Federer only committed seven unforced errors, whilst Nadal committed 15, with ten of those coming from his backhand.

The Swiss made three more forced errors, bringing his total to 11, which doesn’t matter because he won both the shorter rallies and the longer ones. In points up to four strokes, Federer led 38-31, and his advantage in points between five and eight shots was much more considerable, with 17 of 26 victories!

Only 10 points had been decided by the ninth shot, and Federer did not lag behind in any of them, winning six of them to defeat Nadal uncontested. Roger couldn’t have asked for a better start; from the first point to break Nadal in the first game, his return and backhand performed flawlessly.

Six of Nadal‘s eight serves were returned by Federer, who also secured a break with two backhand winners that was crucial for the remainder of the match. Nadal‘s mistakes combined with Federer‘s two service wins gave him a 2-0 lead.

With three service wins in the following game, the Spaniard put his name on the scoreboard. Everything went right for the Swiss player; his serve caused significant damage, and he had the upper hand over Nadal from the baseline to maintain scoreboard control.

After falling serve in the first game, Nadal dropped just two points in the following three service games, winning all of them with his most effective stroke, a service winner. In games eight and nine, there were four winners from each team, and Roger served for the match to start at 5-4.

After 35 minutes, he finished off a set with four more wins to do it in style. Nadal was left without a point as Federer dropped only four service points while executing risky shots and winning ten of 14 mid-range rallies.

At the start of the second set, Roger scored two points on the return before Nadal forced a mistake to win the match. In game two, the Swiss scored two service aces to tie the score at one. Three service winners by Rafa helped him gain the upper hand in game three (he was already on 17 but would get only four until the end of the match).

In the following game, he got as close as 30-30 before Roger held with two victories. Rafa had trouble getting into a routine in the last six service games, but he managed to avoid deuces or break chances. When Roger broke in game five to take a 3-2 lead, everything was different.

In ten points, the Spaniard only had two service winners and struggled without them as Roger pressed hard with his groundstrokes. Nadal missed with another backhand, all but sealing Federer‘s doom. He had three winners and two break chances, converting the second.

After another easy hold, Roger, who was in total command, raced to a 4-2 lead by hitting two service winners and one from his backhand for another significant stride toward the championship. With his fourth volley winner from the court, Nadal cut the deficit to 4-3.

In the following game, he was powerless to make a response as Roger blasted three more unreturned serves to take a 5-3 lead. After 69 minutes, Nadal served to stay in the game, but the pressure came to him, and he broke for the third time, giving his opponent the victory.

Roger scored the game’s first goal and didn’t have to exert much effort in the subsequent points. After three mistakes from Nadal, who also made a poor forehand after the serve, Federer ended the match. Nadal‘s final forehand encapsulated his performance from the starting line that day.

To compete with Federer, who absolutely outclassed him to win his second and final Shanghai title, he needed significantly better statistics.