Novak Djokovic has thrashed a misfiring Andy Murray to set up a Shanghai Masters final against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga as the world number one guns for his 10th title in China.
Djokovic's blockbuster semi-final with second-ranked Murray was hotly anticipated but the 6-1 6-3 result was anti-climactic after Tsonga's thrilling upset of Rafael Nadal earlier.
The mercurial Frenchman recovered from an embarrassing second set to win 6-4 0-6 7-5, pulling off one of his trademark athletic dives to bring up match point.
But Tsonga now faces the steepest of challenges against Djokovic, who moves into his 13th straight final on a 16-match winning streak, and has never lost a final in China.
Djokovic broke Murray five times as the Briton struggled to control his serve and his temper, double-faulting to yield the first of three breaks in a forgettable first set.
"You can't afford to do that against Novak with the way he's playing just now, the amount of confidence he has in his game, and the conditions over here."
As they played, Tsonga was already celebrating one of his biggest wins this year, while Nadal was happy to see signs of life in his game after a disappointing season.
The Spaniard's serve had only been broken once all week but Tsonga finally pierced his armour in the fifth game with a smoking backhand winner before he totted up a one-set lead.
But Tsonga was all at sea in the second set, before regathering himself for a tight deciding set.
Serving for the match, Tsonga dived full-length for a forehand volley and then got up to parry the scrambling Nadal's reply and bring up match point, which the Spaniard lost tamely.
"I will play against a very good player. I know it's going to be difficult. But it's for me an opportunity to hold a new trophy anyway because I'm in final," Tsonga said.
Meanwhile, Serbia's Jelena Jankovic all but ended Venus Williams' slim hopes of qualifying for the end-of-season WTA Finals by winning the battle of former world number ones in the Hong Kong Open semi-finals on Saturday.
Jankovic prevailed 6-4 7-5 in a tight match to set up a Sunday showdown with Germany's Angelique Kerber, who proved too strong for Australia's Sam Stosur.
Kerber beat the former U.S. Open champion 6-2 6-2 and is now one win away from securing her place in the eight-woman field at the WTA Finals in Singapore in eight days time.
AFP / Reuters