The Spaniard needed to make the final here to go ahead of Novak Djokovic in the new ATP rankings, which will be announced on Monday.
The second seed will now confront Djokovic on Sunday in the climax of the tournament, after the defending champion powered his way though his semi-final, dumping out France’s Richard Gasquet 6-4, 6-2.
The Serb, who is on his 101st week as the top-ranked player, will be unseated by Nadal even if he reclaims the title.
Nadal, who last topped the rankings in July 2011, has enjoyed a remarkable season, returning from injury to dominate the hardcourt tournaments. Nadal later told reporters it’s been “one of the best years of my career without any doubt.”
Paes loses in semis
Meanwhile India;’s Leander Paes and his partner Daniel Nestor lost in the doubles semi-finals to Italians Fabio Fognini and Andreas Seppi 6-3, 5-7, 8-10.
Photos: 'Dangal' girls Sanya Malhotra, Fatima Sana Shaikh's dinner outing
Photos: Salman Khan, Daisy Shah spotted at the Mumbai airport
Photos: Rakhi Sawant to play Honeypreet in Ram Rahim biopic
Photos: Arvind Kejriwal asks Kamal Haasan to join politics
Photos: TV actress who played goddesses on the small screen