Rafael Nadal and Nikolay Davydenko to Meet in Shanghai Final
Shanghai Masters 1000—China
Six-time Grand Slam champ Rafael Nadal advanced to his eighth final of the season on Saturday after his countryman Feliciano Lopez retired in the second set, trailing 6-1, 3-0.
Lopez's retirement added to lengthy list of injured players in Shanghai. Lopez became the 10th player this week (in the 56-man draw) to succumb to injury.
The hard-serving Spaniard aggravated blisters on his foot midway through the first set, winning 32 percent of his first serve points, while losing his serve on three occasions.
It was apparent through the 29-minute opening set that the movement of Lopez was significantly hampered. The Madrid native's staple serve and volley style was substituted by his second-rate baseline game.
With only two net approaches throughout the 50-minute contest, Lopez's ability to defeat his higher-ranked countryman became next to impossible.
After losing his first service game in the second set, Lopez took his second medical timeout and inclined to retire.
Lopez's solid week of tennis ended on a low point, but his tremendous effort in Shanghai of will see him back in top 30 in the world on Monday.
Lopez defeated Guillermo Garcia Lopez, David Ferrer, Jurgen Melzer, and Robin Soderling en route his best finish of the season.
Lopez's defeat dropped his year-to-date record to 13-19, while falling to 5-1 against Nadal in career meetings. Lopez will now head back to Madrid to assess his European indoor schedule.
“This morning when I woke up, I had an infection in my right foot,” explained Lopez.
“It was painful during the match, because of running carefully [and] because of the pain I have in my foot, I twisted my ankle a little bit in the last point of the first set. So I had two problems at the same time. It was much more painful, the ankle, than the infection.”
Nadal's victory over his Davis Cup teammate improved his win-loss record this year to 61-9. He will now set his sights on capturing the 16th Masters 1000 event of his career on Sunday in Shanghai.
“I was playing well today,” said Nadal. “I’m in the final which is very good news for me. I’m very happy, it’s my first final since my comeback from injury.”
The world No. 2 was in complete control of his hobbled opponent on Saturday, winning 86 percent of his first serve (12-14), 80 percent of his second serve points (8-10), and striking one ace.
Nadal's finals appearance on Sunday will be the first title match for Spaniard since losing to Roger Federer in Madrid Masters 1000.
Nadal will battle workaholic Russian Nikolay Davydenko for a chance to claim his tour-leading sixth title of the season.
Davydenko narrowly defeated No. 2 seed Novak Djokovic in an epic three-hour-and-two-minute affair which had the fans in the Qi Zhong Tennis Center on the edge of their seats.
The 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7-1) scoreline featured one break of serve by each player during the enthralling semifinal clash. Djokovic drew first blood in the opening set by breaking serve in the tenth game when his Russian opponent committed a backhand unforced error at 15-40.
The second set would mirror the first set, except this time around it would be Davydenko capturing his lone break of serve the at 3-3.
The Russian's clean struck groundstrokes were executed to perfection during his comeback attempts, evening proceedings on his first set point courtesy of his second ace.
The final set continued on course with each man failing to derail the other. Davydenko's passing shots were on full display, while Djokovic entertained the crowd his backhand drop-shot.
The deciding tiebreak culminated the exquisite affair. Davydenko roared to a 4-0 lead on the strength of his first serve and deep return.
The Russian extended his lead to 5-0 by snapping a backhand passing shot crosscourt, only to set up his first of five match points at 6-1.
A final forehand winner by Davydenko sealed his 48th match win of the season, while tying his career head-to-head with Djokovic at two wins a piece.
Davydenko's victory boosted his chances greatly at clinching a spot in the tour final in London. The Russian currently stands in the seventh position, behind Andy Roddick and ahead of Fernando Verdasco.
Djokovic, who has already secured a position in the Barclays ATP World Tour final, reflected on his loss which dropped his record to 66-18 on the season.
“I’m disappointed because I think I played a great match but overall these two weeks have been great for me,” said Djokovic.
Djokovic will take a brief hiatus from the tour, returning to action at the Paris Masters 1000 event in Bercy.
Davydenko laminated the thoughts of Djokovic in the post-match presser, while looking ahead to his contest with Nadal.
“The match today was long and heavy,” Davydenko told reporters. “This was really difficult all match. I was lucky, he was lucky. In the tiebreak, I was more lucky."
"Who was better? I don't know. He was better, but I won. He made many mistakes and also [lost] concentration."
Nadal, who leads Davydenko 4-2 in the pair's head-to-head meetings, assessed his chances against his rival on Sunday.
“He's playing very well,” said Nadal.
“I saw his match today against Novak [Djokovic], and he did unbelievable, playing with a lot of rhythm, playing unbelievable winners and very good points at a lot of intensity.
"So it’s going to be a really tough match, so I will [try to] play my best without making mistakes. If not, it’s going to be impossible. I know that.”
Please check back on Sunday for a full finals recap from the Shanghai Masters 1000.
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