| Semi-finalist Kei Nishikori will become Japan's best ATP player when he moves up rankings on Monday [GALLO/GETTY]
Kei Nishikori reached his first Masters Series semi-final with a commanding 6-4 6-3 victory over Ukraine's Alexandr Dolgopolov on Friday, underlining his imminent status as Japan's highest-ranked player ever on the ATP Tour.
The 21-year-old, earmarked by many as a future top-10 player, will rise from 47th to around 32 in the world when the next set of rankings are released on Monday, eclipsing the 46th spot reached by Shuzo Matsuoka in 1992.
Awaiting the high-flying Nishikori in the Shanghai Masters semi-finals will be world number four Andy Murray who eased into the semifinals with a 6-3 6-2 win over Australian qualifier Matthew Ebden.
The second-seeded Scot has won 23 of his last 24 matches since mid-August, with the only loss coming to Rafa Nadal in the semifinals of the U.S. Open.
He's attempting to win his third title in as many weeks.
The top half of the draw has an all-Spanish semi-final after David Ferrer beat American Andy Roddick 6-7 6-2 7-6 and Feliciano Lopez brushed aside top seed Rafa Nadal's third-round conqueror Florian Mayer 6-2 6-4.
Nishikori, who had already achieved his best Masters Series run by beating Colombia's Santiago Giraldo on Thursday, withstood nine aces from the 12th seeded Dolgopolov and saved six of the seven break points against him.
"It means a lot to play semis here. I'm really excited now. I started well today. I knew he's going to hit a lot of slice shots and I had to be careful," Nishikori, who is coached by Murray's former coach Brad Gilbert, told reporters.
| David Ferrer (pictured) meets fellow Spaniard Feliciano Lopez in the semi-finals [GALLO/GETTY]
"It's been a great year for me. I will get to my highest ranking. To be the number one player in Japan means a lot to me. Now it's the semis here, one of biggest tournaments for me."
Mayer came back down to earth from his victory over Nadal as the rangy Lopez took him apart in one hour and eight minutes to reach the semi-finals in Shanghai for a second time having also got to the last four in 2009.
The relentless Ferrer came from a set behind against 10th seed Roddick, clinching his 50th victory of an impressive season in a deciding set tiebreak.
"I thought the second and third sets he played at an extremely high level and served pretty well," Roddick, who still has an outside chance of qualifying for the ATP World Tour Finals in London next month, said.
"You know, you normally don't count on him making a lot of first serves, hitting aces. I felt like today he did that and got himself out of trouble a couple of times."
World number five Ferrer clinched his place in the season-ending tournament in London on Thursday.