Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray will meet in the semi-finals at the China Open - but second seed Rafael Nadal was a shock quarter-final casualty.
Nadal was beaten 6-7 (7/9) 6-4 6-3 by world number 56 Martin Klizan, who will face third seed Tomas Berdych in the second semi in Beijing.
One service break apiece in the first set led to a tie-break which the Spaniard eventually won 9/7.
And, although he broke in the third game of the second set when Klizan sent a backhand wide, the Slovakian saved a break point in game seven and broke back in the next on his way to taking the set.
In the decider, Nadal had to brilliantly save a break point in his first service game, but broke in the fifth game, only to immediately drop his serve twice in a row.
That left Klizan serving for the match and he finished the job in style, with a flying cross-court smash to round off a hold to 15.
Berdych was imperious in beating John Isner 6-1 6-4, breaking the American’s usually formidable serve twice in the first set and again at the start of the second. Thirteen clean winners in the second set saw him home.
Djokovic is bidding to win the ATP World Tour 500 level event for the fifth time in six years and he made short work of Grigor Dimitrov in his quarter-final to continue his unbeaten career record at the tournament.
Having breezed through the first set 6-2, he looked on course to repeat that scoreline in the second when he had two match points on Dimitrov’s serve. The Bulgarian saved both and broke back to trail only 5-4, but double-faulted at 15-40 in his next service game to hand Djokovic a 6-2 6-4 win in 90 minutes.
Djokovic told atpworldtour.com: “The second set was up and down. But generally it was a good performance.”
British number one Murray won last week’s Shenzhen Open and Djokovic continued: “I’ve seen a little bit of his matches this week. He’s hitting the ball very well.
“Every time I play him, it’s a huge challenge. It’s a very physical match, a lot of long rallies. I do not expect anything less tomorrow.”
Murray raced into a 4-1 lead in the opening set as Cilic’s serve crumpled under the first signs of pressure. Cilic crafted two break points for himself, but Murray saved both before breaking for a third successive time.
The second set was on serve most of the way but, having gone 5-4 up, Murray finally found more cracks in Cilic’s serve to set up three match points, taking the the second as Cilic slipped trying to return his sliced backhand.
Women’s top seed Serena Williams withdrew ahead of her quarter-final against Sam Stosur due to a knee injury, which was heavily strapped during her three-set win over Lucie Safarova.
She follows her sister Venus in pulling out of the tournament and said: “It throbs just sitting, standing. I felt it mostly serving because I’m landing on my left knee. That was really killer for me.
“I haven’t had time to get an MRI scan yet, but I’ll do that and see what the problem is.”
The world number one’s exit gave Stosur an automatic pass to a semi-final against third seed Petra Kvitova after the Czech dispatched Roberta Vinci 7-6 (7/2) 6-4 on Friday.
Fourth seed Maria Sharapova was untested in a 6-0 6-4 win over Svetlana Kuznetsova and will face Ana Ivanovic, who also received a walkover due to second seed Simona Halep’s hip injury.
The pair met in the semi-finals of August’s Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati, Ivanovic victorious in three hard-fought sets before losing the final to Serena Williams.
“It was a very tough match we had in Cincinnati. I was just a point away from winning the match,” Sharapova told wtatennis.com. “It was a tough one to lose.
“She’s been playing really well so far this year, very consistent. I always look forward to our matches – I think they’re always competitive.”