SHANGHAI, China - World number one Rafael Nadal was dumped out of the Shanghai Masters on Saturday by inspired Argentine Juan Martin del Potro, who blew the Spaniard away with a relentless display of brutal hitting to set up a final against Novak Djokovic.
The giant Del Potro, fresh from winning the Japan Open, went into the semi-final at the Qizhong Tennis Centre trailing 8-3 in head-to-heads, but rocked Nadal with a double break in the first set and kept up the pressure to win 6-2 6-4.
Earlier, top seed Djokovic swept aside Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-2 7-5 to earn the chance to defend his title.
Nadal has enjoyed one of the best seasons of his career, winning 10 titles including the French Open and the US Open, and came into the match with all eyes on yet another showdown with Djokovic.
But the 13-time Grand Slam champion was given the run-around by the sixth seed, who launched a sustained and blistering all-court attack from the start, achieving the rare feat of out-hitting his illustrious opponent.
"I played so solid all the time, hitting the ball so hard," said Del Potro.
"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." And he said he could play even better after serving just five aces against Nadal.
"I didn't make too many aces for playing against the number in the world," he added.
"That's what I need tomorrow against Djokovic. I need to win easy points with my serves. Hopefully, my forehands and backhands work like today in the final. I'll be aggressive like today."