Shanghai - Britain's Andy Murray crashed out of the Shanghai Masters against Spain's David Ferrer on Thursday in a blow to his hopes of making the end-of-season World Tour Finals.
The 11th seed took the first set with ease before crumbling, as Ferrer took it 2-6, 6-1, 6-2 to leapfrog Murray into ninth place in the race to reach the eight-man year-ender.
It was a crushing setback for Murray, who has won seven of their previous 12 meetings and must now scramble if he is to make next month's season finale in London.
A day after Rafael Nadal was one of five top-10 players to fall, Murray started the third-round match brightly, going 5-1 ahead within 25 minutes before closing the first set 6-2 with his fifth ace.
But fifth seed Ferrer took the initiative in the second set with increasingly powerful groundstrokes, snuffing out the threat from Murray's aggressive serving game.
The 27-year-old Scot earned just one break point in the second set, as he made a series of mistakes dealing with Ferrer's topspin.
And the Spaniard continued to torment early in the decider, breaking serve at his second attempt after Murray drove a routine groundstroke into the net.
He then broke again to charge ahead at 5-2 before sealing it in one hour and 55 minutes.
Novak Djokovic, Nadal and Roger Federer have already qualified for the World Tour Finals, leaving five spots up for grabs.
But most of the players gunning for the remaining positions have already lost in Shanghai, with only Tomas Berdych, in seventh place, remaining.
And the Czech sixth seed strengthened his bid when he won his third round match against Croatian Ivo Karlovic 6-3, 6-4 in just one hour four minutes.
Meanwhile, Gilles Simon of France continued his fine form at the tournament, dumping out Malek Jaziri of Tunisia 6-2, 6-3 after ousting Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka in the second round.
Elsewhere, Julien Benneteau of France beat American Jack Sock 6-3, 6-4.