Rafael Nadal reached the final of the inaugural Shanghai Masters 1000 event in 2009 and failed to lift the trophy after losing to Nikolay Davydenko. The Spaniard suffered early Shanghai losses in 2010 and 2011, skipping the event in 2012 and reaching the semi-final a year later.
Nadal took down Alexandr Dolgopolov, Carlos Berlocq and Stan Wawrinka to set the semi-final clash with Juan Martin del Potro in 2013. It was their 12th meeting, and the Argentine produced his fourth victory over the Spaniard, beating Rafa 6-2, 6-4 in an hour and 46 minutes.
Del Potro prevailed against Philipp Kohlschreiber in the first match and took down Nicolas Almagro in the quarters to set Nadal clash, beating the 2nd seed for the first time after three consecutive triumphs in 2009. Del Potro served at 80% and fended off all six break chances to mount the pressure on Nadal, producing three breaks from 11 opportunities to secure a place in the third Masters 1000 final and the second of the season.
The Argentine controlled the rallies after hitting more winners and unforced errors, overpowering the better-ranked opponent in the crucial moments to seal the deal in straight sets. Nadal got broken in the encounter's first game when his forehand found the net and created a break chance in game two that del Potro repelled with a forehand winner to cement the lead and open a 2-0 gap.
Rafa fended off three break chances with winners in game three before Juan Martin fired a forehand crosscourt bullet on the fourth that forced an error from his opponent and pushed him 3-0 up.
Juan Martin del Potro defeated Rafael Nadal in straight sets in Shanghai 2013.
Nadal netted a backhand to fall 4-0 down before finally getting his name on the scoreboard when del Potro missed a backhand in the next one to reduce the deficit.
The Argentine saved a break point in game six with another powerful forehand and wasted a set point on the return a few minutes later to keep Nadal in the set. Serving at 5-2, Juan Martin fired four aces to wrap up the opener in style after 46 minutes.
Rafa held at love in the second set's first game for an injection of pace and squandered two break chances in the next one, as del Potro closed the game with a forehand winner for 1-1. Juan Martin grabbed a break with an incredible volley at 1-1 and fended off a break chance with a forehand winner to open a 3-1 gap a few minutes later.
Nadal wasted another break opportunity in game six to stay behind, with del Potro hitting a service winner at 4-3 to extend the gap. Serving for the triumph at 5-4, the Argentine sealed the deal with an unreturned serve, celebrating the first victory over Nadal since 2009 and advancing into the third Masters 1000 final.