Beijing - World number one Rafael Nadal tamed the big-serving American John Isner 6-4, 7-6 (7/0) to surge into the semi-finals of the China Open on Friday.
The brilliant Spaniard, on course for a sixth title this season, faces Bulgaria's third seed Grigor Dimitrov in the last four on Beijing's outdoor hard courts.
The 31-year-old Nadal described Isner's serve as "huge" on the eve of their quarter-final blockbuster.
And Nadal came under the expected barrage before he grabbed the crucial break of serve in the ninth game of a tight first set.
Isner, seeded sixth, blasted 11 aces in the opening set but Nadal punished him at the first sniff of an opportunity.
The second set was even tighter, until Nadal stepped up another gear in the tie break.
Results from the ATP/WTA China Open in Beijing on Friday:
Rafael Nadal (ESP) bt John Isner (USA) 6-4, 7-6 (7/0)
Grigor Dimitrov (BUL x3) bt Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP x5) 7-6 (7/5), 4-6, 6-2
Simona Halep (ROM x2) bt Daria Kasatkina (RUS) 6-2, 6-1