Rafael Nadal's return to action came to a shuddering halt on Friday when the Spaniard was beaten by Slovakia's Martin Klizan in a late-night quarter-final duel at the China Open.
After World No 1 Novak Djokovic had continued his march through the draw to set up a mouth watering semi-final against Andy Murray, Nadal ran out of steam against the aggressive Klizan who won 6-7(7), 6-4, 6-3 for the biggest scalp of his career.
Women's top seed Serena Williams was forced to pull out through injury while Maria Sharapova destroyed Svetlana Kuznetsova in an all-Russian women's quarter-final.
Murray maintained his quest to qualify for the ATP World Tour Finals when he stormed past US Open champion Marin Cilic 6-1, 6-4.
Nadal, making his return from a wrist injury at the China Open having not played since losing at Wimbledon, seemed to be on course for the semis and a match-up with Czech Tomas Berdych when he edged the first set on a tiebreak.
At the scene of his 2008 Olympic gold medal Nadal was then a break ahead in the second set when the match began to turn in favour of 56th ranked qualifier Klizan.
Klizan broke the Nadal serve twice to level the match but Nadal again forged ahead in the decider, leading 3-2 with a break before the match slipped irreversibly out of his control.
Looking a little weary, the 28-year-old Nadal lost his serve to love and with Klizan playing a fearless brand of attacking tennis the Mallorcan suddenly found himself 5-3 down.
Klizan showed no nerves and finished the two hour 37 minute contest with a spectacular smash.