Kevin Anderson thrashed Kei Nishikori 6-0, 6-1 on Tuesday to move to the brink of the last four on his ATP Finals debut.
The 32-year-old South African was on the verge of completing just the second whitewash in the competition’s history until Nishikori won the penultimate game.
Anderson, who lost just eight points on serve, could become the first African player to reach the semifinals of the season-ending tournament.
The only result from Tuesday’s late match that can prevent the fourth-seeded Anderson progressing would be a straight sets victory for Roger Federer over Dominic Thiem.
Despite the resounding nature of the defeat, Nishikori’s opening match victory over Federer means he can still reach the semifinals for the third time.
Anderson and Nishikori split their last two meetings and the Japanese player held a 5-3 career head-to-head, so a close match appeared to be on the cards.
However, just as he did in his tournament-opening victory over Thiem on Sunday, Anderson started fast as an aggressive forehand into the corner earned him a 2-0 lead.
As an increasingly frustrated Nishikori struggled to control his groundstrokes, Anderson displayed relentless accuracy to close out the opening set.
Nishikori took a lengthy comfort break before the start of the second set, but it made no difference as Anderson ruthlessly raced to 5-0 and moved within one game of joining Federer in the history books. The six-time champion blanked Gaston Gaudio in Shanghai in 2005, but Nishikori finally put together a solid game to marginally reduce his embarrassment.
Anderson, the Wimbledon finalist, swiftly completed his 47th win of the season, topping his career-high from 2015.
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