Australian Jordan Thompson earned a set point only to experience the dispiriting fate that countless victims had suffered before him when he was defeated by Rafael Nadal at the Paris Masters.
Thompson's 6-1 7-6 (7-3) loss spelled the end of the Australian singles challenge at the major end-of-season Masters 1000 event after Alex de Minaur had been defeated 5-7 6-2 6-2 by another big gun, Russia's Daniil Medvedev.
Nadal, fresh from his 1000th ATP Tour win, quickly went on the hunt for victory 1001 on Thursday in his first career meeting with Thompson.
He swept up the opening set in just 32 minutes despite world No.61 Thompson fending off three set points.
That fight held the 26-year-old Aussie in good stead in the second set as games went with serve until he eked out a surprise set point on Nadal's delivery at 6-5.
The moment of mini-crisis only brought out the best in world No.2 Nadal who saved the set point by winning a gruelling 26-shot rally.
After that escape, Nadal roared through the tiebreaker to seal the win, with Thompson dumping his forehand into the net after one hour and 33 minutes.
"I think he increased a lot his level in the second set. He played well, so I give credit to him," Nadal said of Thompson.
"I only faced one break point with my serve during the whole match, but it was a set point, and a tough one."
If Nadal can with the event for the first time in eight attempts he will tie Novak Djokovic's record of 36 Masters 1000 titles.
Nadal's next challenger will be ninth-seeded compatriot Pablo Carreno Busta, a 6-2 7-5 victor over qualifier Norbert Gombos.
Australian No.1 de Minaur, a finalist in Antwerp last month, took the first set from world No.5 Medvedev by earning two breaks.
But it only prompted the third-seeded Russian to move into another gear as he broke the 21-year-old's serve four times over the next two sets while not offering up a break point opportunity.
Next up for Medvedev is a clash with Argentine sixth seed Diego Schwartzman, who took just an hour to dispatch Spanish qualifier Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 6-1 6-1.
Stan Wawrinka ended the winning streak of Andrey Rublev, who had won the past two events he had played, to advance to a last-eight meeting with German fourth seed Alexander Zverev.
Swiss 12th seed Wawrinka fought back from a set down to overcome fifth-seeded Russian Rublev 1-6 6-4 6-3.
Zverev was pushed to three gruelling sets by Adrian Mannarino of France before he prevailed 7-6 (13-11) 6-7 (7-9) 6-4 in a three-hour slugfest.
Canada's Milos Raonic beat US qualifier Marcos Giron 7-6 (7-1) 6-2 and will face Frenchman Ugo Humbert, who accounted for Croatian Marin Cilic 6-3 6-7 (4-7) 6-3.