There’s no surprise in Shanghai this year as the No. 1 and 2 seeded players, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, advanced to a super showdown on Sunday.
The 38th meeting between the two legends – which will feature the most Grand Slam champions ever on a singles court (35 total) – was sealed when Federer rallied from a set down to beat Juan Martin del Potro in the semifinals 3-6, 6-3, 6-3, and avenging a loss to him at the US Open.
Del Potro was in control early before the Swiss converted at 3-2 in the second during a lengthy game in which the fans agitated the Argentine. And Federer never faced a break point after the first, and he broke del Potro twice early on in the second.
“He took the confidence after that game. He broke me and he started to play more aggressive. He served much better after that game,” said del Potro. “I was a little upset with something. Nothing about tennis. And you cannot give any advantage against these guys.”
Del Potro came into the match after suffering a contusion to his left wrist.
Meanwhile, Nadal upped his win streak to 16 after easing past Marin Cilic 7-5, 7-6(3).
“Very happy. Of course I played I think a very high level of tennis,” Nadal said. “Was a great match again. I don’t know what he said, if he already talked or what he’s going to say later, I don’t know, but in my opinion, he played well, too. Was a great, good quality of tennis this afternoon.”
Cilic played well but was ultimately undone by 40 unforced errors.
“I was hitting unbelievable shots off the ground, and against other guys they would be winners,” Cilic said. “Or just with serving, serving well, that would be either an ace or winner, and he makes you play another shot.”
The win was Nadal’s 871st of his career moving him past Andre Agassi alone in sixth place on the Open Era wins list. Tomorrow, Nadal is trying to win a record 31st Masters title, which would break the tie he shares with Novak Djokovic, and extend his tour lead in titles this year to seven.
Federer is seeking a sixth title of the year, which would match Nadal, and put some pressure on the Spaniard in the No. 1 race.
In this 38th meeting, Nadal leads 23-14 however Federer has won the last four including three this year.
“I think for that I’m happy about the losses I took,” Federer said of the rivalry. “Took them on the chin and kept moving forward. It’s nice at this late stage of the career that we still have these matches going on.”
While Federer is seeking a second Shanghai title, Nadal is bidding for his first.
“I’m going to do my thing. I know what I have to do. I know it’s very difficult, and especially in this kind of surface. But the most important thing for me is play at my highest level,” Nadal said. “If that happens, I hope to have my chances. If that doesn’t happen, the chances will be much less. But I am playing well, and I am focused on trying to make that happen.”
After the loss, del Potro tipped Federer in the final.
“I think the court helps his game a lot, and he always is in good shape,” del Potro said. “He looks like an unbelievable athlete. I think on this court not many players can beat him. Maybe Rafa tomorrow, but if not, he’s the only one who can play an excellent tennis on this faster surface.
“Rafa is playing so good, but I think Roger could win if he feels the ball really, really well. Because the court is so fast, and for the game of Roger it is much better than Rafa’s game, but Rafa is a fighter and he never gives up. It will be interesting to watch.”
Match time tomorrow in 4:30am ET. Tennis Channel will broadcast the match live.
SUNDAY SHANGHAI SCHEDULE
STADIUM start 1:30 pm
 H. Kontinen (FIN) / J. Peers (AUS) vs  L. Kubot (POL) / M. Melo (BRA)
Not Before 4:30 pm
 R. Nadal (ESP) vs  R. Federer (SUI)
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