Shanghai Flashback: Roger Federer beats del Potro to arrange Rafael Nadal meeting

Rafael Nadal advanced into his 46th Masters 1000 final in Shangahi 2017, and Roger Federer repeated that feat a few hours later following a 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 win over Juan Martin del Potro. Federer avenged the US Open defeat and ousted the Argentine for the 17th time in 23 encounters, coming from a set down to cross the finish line and advance into the third Shanghai final. Roger raised his level in sets two and three, never facing a break point and sailing through his service games to keep the pressure on the other side of the court. Juan Martin failed to follow that pace, losing serve three times in the last two sets to end his journey in the semis.

Thus, Federer booked a place in his seventh final that year, bringing up the 38th meeting with his great rival Rafael Nadal. Roger served at 72% and lost only 14 points in 13 service games, suffering one break that cost him the opener. In sets two and three, the Swiss dropped nine points behind the initial shot, delivering reliable numbers on the return to overpower the opponent and remain on the title course. Del Potro lost 40% of the points on his serve, facing ten break chances and getting broken three times to miss the opportunity of advancing into his fourth Masters 1000 final and the second in Shanghai.

Roger Federer reached the third final in Shanghai in 2017.

It was a high-quality encounter right from the start, and we saw seven easy holds in the first set, with one loose game from both. Del Potro saved a break point with an ace in game three and held after five deuces with another unreturnable serve after almost ten minutes. It was Roger’s turn to face problems in the sixth game, spraying three backhand errors to fall 4-2 behind. Juan Martin held at 30 in games seven and nine to bring the set home with an ace after 37 minutes. They had a similar number of winners and errors, and that one break chance that del Potro converted made all the difference. Roger raised his level in the second set, doing a lot of damage with his initial shot (Delpo returned only 42% of his serves) and losing just three points in five service games. Juan Martin was nowhere near those numbers, getting broken in game six when Roger converted the fifth break opportunity to move 4-2 ahead.

The Argentine saved two more break chances in game eight to force Federer to serve for the set, and Roger delivered a quick hold to clinch it 6-3 and gain a boost ahead of the decider. The final set was the shortest one, and Roger was just too strong in his games, forcing Juan Martin to repeat those numbers if he wanted to stay in contention. Del Potro lost serve in game three after Federer’s sublime defense, and the match was over when the Swiss grabbed another return game at 5-3 to set the anticipated final with Rafael Nadal.

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