World number 1 Rafael Nadal came to Shanghai with a positive vibe after winning his second title in a row in Beijing, and he wasted no time in his opening match, demolishing Jared Donaldson by 6-2 6-1 in 54 minutes! This was one of the 3 quickest Masters 1000 wins for the Spaniard (in the finished matches), who never won Shanghai in his career, and he really threw everything he had on poor Jared, who could only stand and watch his rival hitting winners from all over the court to leave him without any glimpse of a chance. This was their first meeting and Donaldson was off to a great start, with 2 holds at love and with a 30-15 advantage on the return in game 5.
From that moment on, Nadal was the only player on the court, rattling off 42 out of the last 55 points to notch a quick win and move to the next round, saving some precious energy for the more competitive rivals. Everything worked perfectly for a 16-time Grand Slam champion on both serve and return, dropping 4 points in his games and conquering almost 50% of the return points, creating 11 break points in such a short time and breaking the youngster 4 times to bring the match home in under an hour.
It was a masterclass performance from Nadal in terms of hitting the first groundstroke after the serve, not only because of 8 winners scored right after the serve, but thanks to an amazing ball placement that entirely dismantled Jared.
Rafa created an open space like it was the easiest thing in the world, spreading Donaldson over the baseline and opening the court for a ruthless execution. Of course, he delivered the same kind of tactics on the return, surviving 10 service winners from the American (6 in the opening 2 service games) and seizing a full control once he cracked the serve patter on his opponent, leaving him in ruins every time he would have missed the first serve.
Donaldson didn't have the power or depth in his shots to move Nadal from the zone and force him to miss more, getting only 8 errors in total from the Spaniard and making 20 of his own, including 5 double faults. Rafa never took his foot off the pedal, charging from start to finish with an amazing serving display and pushing his opponent to the limits with well-balanced groundstrokes that Donaldson had no answer for.
Spaniard had more free points, with a 14-10 advantage in service winners but he made the huge difference in the rallies, blasting 17 winners (10 from his forehand) against only 6 from his rival. As we already said, Nadal stayed on just 8 mistakes (4 from each wing), which is an impressive number considering how aggressive he was, while Jared had 8 unforced and 7 forced errors, together with those 5 double faults that also broke his rhythm and confidence.
The American won just 2 points after missing the first serve and there was no way he could score a better result in this one especially in the second set when Nadal flew over the court. It was a match with short points and quick exchanges, Rafa had a 5-3 edge in the longest 8 points but also a more stable 11-4 advantage in the mid-range rallies from 5 to 8 strokes.
Nonetheless, Spaniard made the biggest difference in the shortest points, up to 4 shots, with a 35-17, mainly thanks to that explosive first groundstroke that brought him many points or helped to settle the rally like he would have wanted.
Both players started in a strong fashion with 3 service winners for each in the opening service games, which was a nice sign that we might get a solid encounter. The next 2 service games changed nothing, Nadal was still aggressive and Jared did his job with the serve, firing already 6 service winners in 2 games.
Out of 4 points he lost in total on serve, Nadal dropped 2 in game 5 when he fell 30-15 down after 2 errors. Still, he found the winners in the next couple of points to earn a game point, and he delivered a hold after a 20-stroke rally, forcing an error from his opponent.
Jared didn't lose a point on serve so far in the match, but that all changed in game 6, hitting 2 double faults and another backhand wide to face 3 break points. He fends them off with 3 great winners but the game kept running away from him, as Nadal was eager to crack his rival and break him at this visit.
He finally did that on his 6th break point when Donaldson made another error to send Rafa 4-2 in front. It was 5-2 after just 24 minutes, thanks to 3 winners from the Spaniard in game 7, who looked better and better on the court.
Nadal opened the 8th game with 2 winners and he got a set point after another double fault from the youngster. In the end, Jared made a forced error to get broken for the second time and lose the set in just 29 minutes, unable to find the drive in the second part of the set.
They had a similar number of winners, with Jared leading 7-6 in those from serve while Nadal stood on a 7-5 in the direct points from the field. Errors were the crucial element, as Jared just made too many, spraying 14 against only 6 that Nadal committed.
Donaldson's second serve was just too weak to make any damage against such a strong rival, and he had a lot of work to do if he wanted to change the things on the court in the rest of the match. Nadal was still pushing strong, and he held at the start of the second set with 4 service winners, something we don't see very often from him.
In the second game, he didn't have to do much to earn a break at love, as Jared hit 2 errors with 2 double faults, losing his ground completely. A few minutes later Spaniard had a 3-0 advantage, with another hold at love (he won all 12 points of the set so far), landing a service winner and 2 more from his backhand right after the serve.
Donaldson finally ended his drought with 3 winners in game 4, reducing the deficit to 3-1 and interrupting Nadal's run of 7 consecutive games. Still, Rafa was untouchable on his serve, adding 3 more winners in game 5 to move 4-1 ahead, again making all the contrast with his well-placed serve and a mighty groundstroke that followed.
3 winners gave Nadal a 40-0 on the return in game 6 and he placed another forehand down the line winner for a 5-1, and he had a chance to close the match on own serve in the following game. After such an outstanding performance, there was only one way to wrap up a win, shooting 4 more winners in game 7 (11 in the last 3 games alone) in what was one of his most dominant Masters 1000 wins.
In set number 2 Nadal had 8 service winners, reducing Jared to just 3, and it was 10-1 in the direct points from the court, which gives a clear picture how well the Spaniard played. A top of that, Rafa had only 2 errors while Jared had 6 (2 unforced, forced and double faults), managing to win only 6 points in the entire set and leaving the court knowing that he has to work very hard in the years to come to even come close to what Nadal just produced against him.
Point by point result and the number of shots in the rallies: