Rafa Nadal's return to action came to a shuddering halt when the Spaniard was beaten by Slovakia's Martin Klizan in a late-night quarter-final duel at the China Open.
After world number one Novak Djokovic had continued his march through the draw to set up a mouth watering semi-final against Andy Murray, Nadal ran out of steam against the aggressive Klizan who won 6-7, 6-4, 6-3 for the biggest scalp of his career.
Djokovic, looking for a fifth title at the China Open, dismantled a flat Grigor Dimitrov 6-2 6-4 in a one-sided quarter-final while Murray maintained his quest to qualify for the ATP World Tour Finals when he stormed past U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic 6-1 6-4.
Meanwhile, home favourite Kei Nishikori gave his fans a fright with an injury scare in the second set before recovering to beat Jeremy Chardy of France to remain on course for another Japan Open title.
The world number seven, who last month became the first Asian to reach a men's grand slam singles final, dispatched the unseeded Chardy 6-4 6-2 in the quarter-finals to set up a last four meeting with Benjamin Becker of Germany.
In the other half the draw, Canadian Milos Raonic, whom Nishikori beat in 2012 to win the title, won through to the last four after a close fought battle with Uzbek Denis Istomin.
The big-serving third seed rained down 15 aces in the 7-6, 6-3 victory, with Istomin only able to win one point on the Raonic first serve.
The twice runner-up will next face Gilles Simon after the Frenchman beat American Steve Johnson in uncharacteristically straightforward manner, 7-6(4) 6-1.