Paris, Nov 3: World number two Rafael Nadal shattered Mikhail Youzhny's Masters Cup dreams by crushing the Russian 6-4 6-2 in the quarter-finals of the Paris Masters Series tournament today.
Youzhny, one of several players battling this week in Paris for the two remaining spots at the Nov. 11-18 season finale in Shanghai featuring the world's top eight, survived two match points but was outpowered by the muscular Spaniard.
Nadal, appearing at the 2.45-million dollar indoor event for the first time, sealed victory with a backhand winner after 93 minutes to set up a semi-final meeting with Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis.
The unseeded Baghdatis had earlier ended Spaniard Tommy Robredo's Shanghai hopes with a 6-4 6-4 win.
Neither Youzhny nor Robredo can now finish in the top eight of the ATP Race to win a ticket to China.
Baghdatis still stands an outside chance but will qualify only if he wins the title and neither Frenchman Richard Gasquet nor Briton Andy Murray, who face each other in the quarter-finals later today, make the final.
Argentine David Nalbandian, who dropped out of the hunt for tickets to Shanghai yesterday despite his third-round victory over world number one Roger Federer, advanced to the semi-finals but was made to work for his win.
The unseeded Nalbandian, who had beaten Federer already in the Madrid Masters final late last month, needed three sets and nearly as many hours to down Spain's David Ferrer 7-6 6-7 6-2 in a ferocious contest featuring thrilling rallies.
Fifth seed Ferrer, who has already qualified for Shanghai, matched his opponent's power and determination for two sets but then ran out of steam and Nalbandian wrapped it up with an ace to set-up a semi-final against Murray or Gasquet.