Rafael Nadal will return to number one in the world tennis rankings after his semi-final opponent Tomas Berdych retired injured at the China Open
The Spaniard needed to make the final in Beijing to edge ahead of Novak Djokovic in the new rankings, which will be announced on Tuesday.
The second seed will now confront Djokovic on Sunday in the climax of the tournament, after the defending champion powered his way though his semi-final, dumping out France's Richard Gasquet 6-4 6-2.
Nadal, who last topped the rankings in July 2011, has enjoyed a remarkable season, returning from injury to dominate the hardcourt tournaments.
In Saturday's women's semi-finals, world number one Serena Williams powered through her match with Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska 6-2 6-2.
Williams will face eighth seed Jelena Jankovic in Sunday's final after the Serb defeated Czech Petra Kvitova 6-7 (7-9) 6-1.