Del Potro blows Nadal away
Juan Martin del Potro caused a major surprise in Shanghai by upsetting new World No 1 Rafael Nadal to reach the final.
In a pulsating clash the Argentine won through 6-2 6-4 to book his place at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals at London's O2 Arena.
Nadal had not dropped his serve once on his way to the semi-finals, but that record went to pieces against del Potro, who broke twice in the first set and once in the second to take victory and set up a date against Novak Djokovic on Sunday.
Fresh from winning the Japan Open, a red-hot del Potro was quick out of the blocks, racing into a 4-0 lead with a scintillating display of flawless tennis at the Qizhong Tennis Center.
'The Tower Of Tandil' was producing a highlight reel of aggressive tennis thanks to some heavy groundstrokes from the back of the court and it was not until the fifth game that the winner of 10 titles this year, Nadal, managed to hold serve.
The 25-year-old Argentine wrapped up the opening set to love with a nerveless service game in 45 minutes.
Some more magical play in a marathon third game of the second set allowed del Potro to break his opponent before establishing a handsome 3-1 lead.
The Shanghai crowd were enjoying some quite breathtaking action at times as both players gave an exhibition of shot-making.
At 5-4, the sixth seed held his nerve to serve out the match and secure his first win over Nadal since 2009.
"I played so solid all the time, hitting so hard the ball. 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," del Potro said.
Nadal said he hadn't seen del Potro play this well in years. Or anyone, for that matter.
"Very few times I played against a player with a level like today I played against," the Spaniard said. "At the end, I played against a player who served 80 percent of first serves, who hit every ball as hard as he can, I think, and with no mistakes."
It was only the second time this year that the French and US Open champion had failed to reach a final.