World number two Rafa Nadal stopped Marat Safin's Beijing revival in its tracks on Friday with a clinical 6-3 6-1 victory to reach the semi-finals of the $6.6-million China Open.
Spain 's Nadal, playing his first tournament since returning from an abdominal injury, dominated a brief but richly entertaining encounter against fellow former world number one Safin, who is retiring at the end of the season.
Elena Dementieva earlier joined the exodus of top women's seeds when she was upset 7-5 6-3 by Poland 's Agnieszka Radwanska in the quarter-finals of the WTA's new "crown jewel" tournament.
Safin had served up 12 aces in his upset of seventh seed Fernando Gonzalez on Thursday but Nadal faced only one from the big Russian in front of a packed centre court.
Robbed of his serve, no amount of racket twirling and delicate net play could keep Safin in the match and Nadal converted his one break point in the first set and raced away with the second.
"I played a really good match," said Nadal, whose season was also disrupted by tendonitis in both knees. "I played good matches yesterday and today and I'm really happy.
"I'm feeling better now than during the American season. I don't know if I am playing at my best level but we'll see over the rest of the tournament."
Nadal will play Marin Cilic for a place in his first final since May's Madrid Masters on Saturday after the eighth-seeded Croatian beat fourth seed Nikolay Davydenko 6-4 6-4 in the first match on centre court.
Second seed Novak Djokovic also reached the last four by beating Spanish fifth seed Fernando Verdasco 6-3 1-6 6-1 to move within one victory of reclaiming the world number three ranking.
Andy Murray's withdrawal from next week's Shanghai Masters because of injury means Djokovic just has to reach the final in Beijing to move above the Briton in the rankings on Oct. 19.
To reach his eighth tour final of the year, Djokovic will have to get past Swede Robin Soderling, who defeated Croatian Ivan Ljubicic 7-6 6-4.
The fourth-seeded Dementieva's defeat means none of the world's top five women made it through to the semi-finals, and ended her winning streak at the Olympic tennis centre at nine matches.
Dementieva, who won Olympic gold here last year, had cruised to the quarter-finals as other seeds fell by the wayside but Radwanska broke her serve early and never let her settle.
"The competition here is hard, you have to be 100 percent from the beginning of tournament," Dementieva said when asked why so many top players had gone out. "While I cannot talk for all of the players, I feel like I was just not good enough today."
The 12th-seeded Radwanska will meet Marion Bartoli in the semi-finals after the Frenchwoman came from behind to beat Russian seventh seed Vera Zvonareva 3-6 7-5 6-2.
Nadia Petrova ended Chinese Peng Shuai's giant-killing run, winning 6-7 6-3 6-2 to succeed where Jelena Jankovic and Maria Sharapova failed earlier in the week.