Andy Murray's winning run in China came to an end on Saturday as he fell to world number one Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals of the China Open.
Murray won in Shenzhen last week as he seeks to force his way into the top eight in the rankings and make the ATP World Tour Finals and his run to the last-four in Beijing will have done that bid no harm.
But he could not produce the goods to overcome Djokovic who claimed a 6-3 6-4 win in an hour and 36 minutes.
The first set was going with serve with the minimum of fuss until an epic eighth game which lasted nine minutes.
Murray saw off two break points and then got on game point but ballooned a forehand long and was clearly irritated with himself as he walked back to the baseline.
Djokovic earned himself another break point and this time he took it as Murray put the ball into the net to hand the Serb a 5-3 lead.
The world number one then closed out the first set to leave Murray, who has never beaten him when losing the first set, with a mountain to climb.
And the Scot's task became greater at the start of the second as a couple of unforced errors allowed Djokovic to break him to love in the opening game and then keep Murray off the board in the second to storm into a 2-0 lead.
Murray held serve in the third game and had two break points in a 10-minute battle in the fourth but Djokovic held his nerve to make it 3-1.
He had a break point to make it 4-1 but Murray fought back and Djokovic was made to pay as Murray broke at the third time of asking to level things up.
Both men then held their serve but Djokovic broke again to make it 5-4 and served out the final game to love to advance to the final.
"I was doing a decent job of it myself, but I just made a few too many errors today," Murray told BBC Sport.
"I played some good stuff. But the period in the middle of the first set, and the beginning of the second set, I could have done better."
Djokovic, who is looking for his fifth China Open win, admitted he was tested by Murray but was pleased with how he handled the key moments in the match.
"It was a two-set victory today, but still it felt like I had to work hard to win the points," Djokovic told http://www.atpworldtour.com.
"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."Reuse content