SHANGHAI (AP):Rafael Nadal lost his first match since reclaiming the No. 1 ranking this week, falling to a resurgent Juan Martin del Potro 6-2, 6-4 in the Shanghai Masters semi-finals yesterday.
The fifth-ranked del Potro will try to win his first Masters title today against top-seeded Novak Djokovic, who defeated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the other semi-final 6-2, 7-5.
Del Potro hadn't beaten Nadal since the semi-finals of the 2009 US Open where the Argentine went on to win his only Grand Slam title.
But del Potro is playing fully fit, and with confidence - he's coming off a win last week at the Japan Open that returned him to the top five in the rankings for the first time in three years.
He completely overpowered Nadal with his deep, punishing groundstrokes and fended off all six break points he faced.
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 I played against today," the Spaniard said. "At the end, I played against a player who served 80 per cent of first serves, who hit every ball as hard as he could, I think, and with no mistakes."
The big-hitting Argentine, who wrapped up a spot in the ATP Finals in London with the win, has been working his way back into top form since a wrist injury knocked him off the tour for most of 2010 - just after he got his breakthrough win as a 20-year-old at the US Open.
Djokovic, meanwhile, will be trying to win his 20th-straight match - and fourth-straight tournament - in China today. He won the China Open and the Shanghai Masters in 2012, and then successfully defended his title in Beijing last week, beating Nadal in the final.