Beijing - Johanna Konta crushed home hero Zhang Shuai in two sets in the China Open quarter-finals on Friday as Andy Murray and David Ferrer offered tough lessons to their younger opponents.
Buoyed by the home crowd, Zhang broke the Briton twice to take the opening four games of the match.
But at 0-4 down, Konta abruptly turned the tide in her favour winning 12 consecutive points to book her semi-final place with a 6-4, 6-0 victory.
The 14th-ranked Briton is now one win away from joining the ranks of the top 10, which would make her the first British woman to join the elite grouping since Jo Durie in 1984.
Konta next faces American Madison Keys, who ended Petra Kvitova's eight-match winning streak in an epic two-tie break victory, 6-3, 6-7 (2/7), 7-6 (7/5).
Meanwhile, Murray beat Davis Cup team-mate Kyle Edmund and Ferrer dispatched German youngster Alexander Zverev to set up a semi-final face-off.
The three-time Grand Slam champion was forced into a tense 20-point tie break in the first set by his 21-year-old compatriot, finally clinching it with a forehand passing shot.
But Edmund - who upset 18th-ranked Roberto Bautista Agut in the second round - was unable to hold his serve in the second, conceding the match 7-6 (11/9), 6-2.
"I felt like in the second set, I did start to dictate more of the points," Murray said after the match.
"More of the match was more on my terms then, whereas in the first set Kyle was dictating a lot."
Zverev, 19, was looking to cap a breakout season with a second career title in Beijing, but was unable to capitalise on his first set lead as he was overpowered by Ferrer 6-7 (4/7), 6-1, 7-5.
The German upset the Swiss world number three Stan Wawrinka to win his maiden ATP title at St. Petersburg in September, having downed number nine Tomas Berdych in the semis.
In Beijing he beat 10th-ranked Austrian Dominic Thiem in the first round, making him the first teenager to defeat three top 10 players in a row since Boris Becker in 1986.
Despite the loss, Zverev - who started the year ranked 83rd - is expected to rise to 21 when the new rankings are released Monday as he edges towards a place in the top 20 for the first time.
Keys put in an Olympic effort to exact revenge over Kvitova in their first meet since the Czech denied the American a bronze medal in Rio.
A double fault by Kvitova turned the first set in favour of Keys, but she pulled back in the second pushing it to a tie break, which she won.
There was little between the pair in the final set, but Kvitova's 32 unforced errors to Keys' 25 ultimately cost the Czech a semi-final place - and ended her eight-match winning streak.
"She made it really tough today. I'm just really happy that at the end I was able to get my serve back on track and get myself ahead in the tiebreaker," Keys told reporters after the match.
Kvitova has had a year of ups and downs since she split with her coach of seven years David Kotyza after the Australian Open in January.
She ended last year runner-up in the WTA Finals in Singapore but this season she has failed to get past the round of 16 at any of the Grand Slams, and her ranking fell to 16 - its lowest since 2011.
Keys, 21, made her top 10 debut this year after winning her second career title in Birmingham in June.
The big hitting youngster - who is often cast as a successor to 22-Grand Slam champion Serena Williams - is also chasing her first qualification for the elite WTA Finals in Singapore, which features the season's top eight players.
With her quarter-final win she moves into seventh in the Race to Singapore leaderboard, but Konta is hot on her heels.
Results from the ATP/WTA China Open in Beijing on Friday (x denotes seeding):
Andy Murray (GBR x1) bt Kyle Edmund (GBR) 7-6 (11/9), 6-2
David Ferrer (ESP x5) bt Alexander Zverev (GER) 6-7 (4/7), 6-1, 7-5
Milos Raonic (CAN x3) bt Pablo Carreo-Busta (ESP) 6-4, 6-4
Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) bt Rafael Nadal (ESP x2) 6-2, 6-4
Pablo Carreno-Busta (ESP) bt Richard Gasquet (FRA) 5-7, 6-4, 6-1
Milos Raonic (CAN x3) bt Malek Jaziri (TUN) 6-3, 6-4
Agnieszka Radwanska (POL x3) bt Yaroslava Shvedova (KAZ) 6-1, 6-2
Elina Svitolina (UKR x16) bt Daria Gavrilova (AUS) 7-6 (7/3), 6-1
Johanna Konta (GBR x11) bt Shuai Zhang (CHN) 6-4, 6-0
Madison Keys (USA x8) bt Petra Kvitova (CZE x14) 6-3, 6-7 (2/7), 7-6 (7/5)
Yaroslava Shvedova (KAZ) bt Alize Cornet (FRA) 6-2, 6-4