Andy Murray crashed out of contention for a Masters Cup place on Friday, going down 6-3, 0-6, 6-4 to Richard Gasquet in the quarter-finals of the Paris Masters.
The loss was a fatal blow to the long-odds hopes of the Scot who missed three months injured this season and made a late run at a place in the season wrapup starting next weekend in Shanghai.
The one spot now remaining in the field -- Fernando Gonzalez was confirmed on number seven during the evening -- will go to Marcos Baghdatis or Gasquet.
Baghdatis would have to win the tournament and Gasquet would need to lose in the semis to Argentine David Nalbandian for the Cypriot to go through.
Murray stormed back with a 6-0 second set after dropping the first against Gasquet, but let the French number one off the hook as he dropped serve to love to trail 2-3 in the third.
That was all the opening the home boy needed to close out the victory in front of partisan fans.
Murray didn't help his cause with 36 unforced errors in the one hour 38minutes encounter.
"It was a one-set match to get to the year-end championships," said a subdued Murray.
"We both wanted to win. I was disappointed when I lost points and fired up when I won them."
"What I've done this year has been unbelievable, considering my wrist injury. To have a match to get to the championships after what I've been through is amazing," he said.
"It came down to three bad games for me. When you win more games and more points and still lose the match, it's tough," Murray said.
Rafael Nadal earned his first semi-final place by eliminating Mikhail Youzhny 6-4, 6-2.
"I'm very happy to come back and play a tournament like this. The last two matches have been very good for me," Nadal said. "I'm happy, not totally for the victory, but for playing very good tennis today."
The unseeded Nalbandian extended his autumn indoor hot streak but his success will not be rewarded with a place in China.
The Argentine who won the year-ender in Asia in 2005 against Roger Federer outlasted Spaniard David Ferrer 7-6 (7/3), 6-7 (3/7), 6-2.
Nalbandian defeated Federer last month for the Madrid title and beat the Swiss again in Thursday's third round in Paris.
Tommy Robredo was knocked out of contention for a Shanghai spot when he lost 6-4, 6-4 to Marcos Baghdatis.
Lindsay Davenport continued to impress in her comeback by beating France's Stephanie Foretz 6-4, 6-0 on Friday in the quarter-finals of the WTA Bell Challenge.
The 31-year-old unseeded American advanced to the semis where she was due to face Russian Vera Zvonareva who rolled over Olga Poutchkova 6-2, 6-1.
Third seed Julia Vakulenko stopped Olga Govortzova to set up the other semi against Julie Ditty.
Former world number one Davenport is playing in her third tournament of the season after taking almost a year off due to pregnancy. After giving birth to her first child in June, Davenport returned to singles action a month ago at Bali, Indonesia and won the event.
Including three victories in Quebec, Davenport is 11-1 this season and has won 22 of 26 sets.
Zvonareva is the highest seed remaining at the indoor carpet event.
Vakulenko, advanced with a 6-3, 6-2 win against No. 5 Govortsova.
Ditty needed three sets to dispatch Vania King 6-4, 3-6, 6-4.