Andy Murray is out of the China Open, losing to an impressive Novak Djokovic in straight sets, 6-3 6-4.
The world number one was in control from the outset, although Murray threatened a comeback during the second set when he won three games in a row.
The result, however, was never really in doubt, and Djokovic’s stronger service game won out.
He will play Tomas Berdych in the final after the third-seeded Czech beat Martin Klizan of Slovakia 6-4 6-1.
“I’m glad that I’m back in the form that I would like to be in, especially in these courts where I still haven’t lost ever since I played this tournament,” said a jubilant Djokovic.
“Hopefully I can finish the year in style, similar as I finished last year. It was a two-set victory today, but still it felt like I had to work hard to win the points.
“There was a lot of rally exchanges. He had a lot of chances to come back. He was 4-3 up. Just in important moments I managed to play the better tennis.
“The comfortable hold at 4-3 probably allowed me to have that relief, because obviously I didn’t want him to break me and get into a third set where it can go either way.”
Murray now sits ninth in the ATP Race to London rankings – just outside the top eight who will compete at the World Tour Finals in London next month, but a similar run at the Shanghai Masters next week would almost certainly be enough for him to quality.
And the Scot clearly took a huge amount of confidence from his week in China.
“I feel I’m playing well,” said Murray to the ATP Tour website. “My body’s responded pretty good to playing an eighth match in 10 days, so that’s positive. I got a lot of matches, some momentum.
“Obviously, I would have liked to have done a little bit better here. But I lost to the No. 1 player in the world. There’s no disgrace in that.
“You always want to try to do a little bit better. Hopefully I can make some improvements next week.
“I’ve always enjoyed playing in Shanghai. I played some of my best tennis there. I hope I can do the same again. If I play well, I’ll give myself a chance at getting to The O2.”