Novak Djokovic produced an inspired display to thrash a chastened Andy Murray 6-1 6-3 and reach the final of the Shanghai Masters.
The world number one broke his Scottish opponent three times in the first set and then hit back from a break down in the second to wrap up victory inside 68 minutes.
Murray, who made 30 unforced errors as opposed to just seven by Djokovic, admitted he was well below par.
"It was tough," said Murray on the ATP Tour's website. "I'm obviously disappointed with the way I played.
"I served poorly in the first set especially. You can't afford to do that against Novak with the way he's playing just now, the amount of confidence he has in his game, and the conditions over here. You have to do better than that.
"I made it extremely difficult for myself. I just couldn't get myself in it. Just didn't serve well at all. It was tough."
Murray had beaten Djokovic in their last encounter, the final of the 2015 Canadian Open, and, although he managed to fend off two break points in his opening service game, the floodgates opened soon after.
Djokovic broke for a 2-1 lead and then won 24 of the next 27 points after dominating from the back of the court to win the first set in only 25 minutes.
The Briton responded at the start of the second set by breaking Djokovic, only to give away his next service game, and there was no stopping the Serbian from then on.
"It's the best match of the tournament at the right time against a player who was in form and one of my biggest rivals," said Djokovic, who has won nine of his last 10 matches against Murray.
"He's a player I lost to a couple months ago in the Montreal final. Obviously there was a lot at stake. Whenever we play against each other, it's always exciting. It's always a huge challenge.
"But I was ready. I came in from the very first point with the right intensity, played great, on a very high level."
Djokovic will face Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Sunday's final after the Frenchman defeated Rafael Nadal 6-4 0-6 7-5 in the other semi-final.
Tsonga broke Nadal's serve in the fifth game and then served out to wrap up the opening set although the Spaniard hit back in brutal fashion to take the match to a decider.
But Tsonga recovered, breaking Nadal in the 11th game before sealing victory and his place in his first Masters final since winning the Canadian Open last year.