Rafael Nadal reached the final of the inaugural Shanghai Masters 1000 event in 2009, losing to Nikolay Davydenko. The Spaniard suffered early losses in 2010 and 2011, skipping Shanghai 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. 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, mounting the pressure on Nadal and producing three breaks from 11 opportunities to secure the place in the third Masters 1000 final and the second of the season.
The Argentine controlled the rallies' pace, hitting more winners and unforced errors and overpowering the better-ranked opponent in the crucial moments to seal the deal in straight sets. Nadal got broken in the first game of the encounter when his forehand found the net, creating a break chance in game two that Juan Martin repelled with a forehand winner to cement the break 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 the opponent and pushed him 3-0 up.
In Shanghai 2013, Juan Martin del Potro defeated Rafael Nadal in straight sets.
Nadal netted a backhand to fall 4-0 down, finally getting his name on the scoreboard when del Potro missed a backhand in game five to reduce the deficit.
The Argentine saved a break point in game six with another powerful forehand and wasted a set point in the next one 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 first game of the second set for an injection of pace, wasting 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, fending off a break chance with a forehand winner a few minutes later to open a 3-1 gap.
Nadal wasted another break opportunity in game six to stay behind, with Juan Martin hitting a service winner at 4-3 to extend the gap. Serving for the triumph at 5-4, the Argentine sealed the deal with a service winner, celebrating the first victory over Nadal since 2009 and advancing into the third Masters 1000 final.