Juan Martin Del Potro scored arguably the best win of his season earlier today knocking out world No. 1 Rafael Nadal in very convincing fashion 6-2, 6-4 to advance to the Shanghai Masters final where he’ll face defending champion Novak Djokovic.
After years of fighting injuries the Argentine finally looks like the ferocious player we saw when he won the US Open in 2009. Nadal, who played pretty well, just couldn’t match Delpo’s power game on the slick Shanghai track.
When he’s on his mark, Del Potro is about as unplayable a guy as there is on the tour. And that showed today.
“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.”
As for Nadal, the loss was maybe a bit of a reality check after such a hot year on the hardcourts. Rafa may be No. 1 now but that’s consecutive one-sided losses to top level players on hardcourts the last two weeks.
“He played amazing. I just congratulate him,” Nadal said. “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.”
In the first semi, Djokovic was tested late by JW Tsonga but got through nicely 6-2, 7-5.
“[My serving] was very controlled, very efficient,” Djokovic said. “I was trying to open up the court and move him around. I know he likes to have targets, he likes to play from the backhand corners so I tried not to [let] him into that comfort zone.”
As for the title bout…
Novak Djokovic v Juan Martin Del Potro
This is the final I picked at the start of the tournament and I’ll stay with Djokovic here. As much as I’ll root for Delpo, I just think Djokovic feels so especially comfortable on these courts this time of year and results prove it: he’s his last 19 matches in China!
The key for the match, I think, will be Djokovic’s serve. If he’s struggling in anyway with it he’s going to have a very tough time fending off Delpo. Novak’s exceptional defense should create some problems for Delpo off the ground and I think Djokovic can get the big guy’s serve back.
And let’s watch the nerves. With Nadal out this becomes a big point win for Djokovic who’s been shut out of hardcourt Masters title this season. Meanwhile for Del Potro, he’s never ever won a Masters title of any kind. What a chance now just two sets away.
But I think Juan Martin will have to wait a little longer.
The pick: Djokovic in three
Tennis Channel will have the match live at 4:30am ET, and hopefully
SUNDAY SHANGHAI SCHEDULE
STADIUM start 2:00 pm
 I Dodig (CRO) / M Melo (BRA) vs  D Marrero (ESP) / F Verdasco (ESP)
 N Djokovic (SRB) vs  J Del Potro (ARG)
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