The 22-year-old, who has now won nine of his last 11 matches, has dropped just one set in Beijing where he will look to repeat his quarter-final victory over Nadal in Cincinnati Open in August.
Troubled Australian tennis star Nick Kyrgios says he has finally found a goal in life and will build a facility for disadvantaged kids after being struck by the death of a young boy from cancer.
The world No 19 was aiming for his first title of the year but fell to a convincing 6-2 6-1 defeat in Beijing.
Despite his new-found direction, Kyrgios said he was not trying to make out all was now well in his life, and at his age, he still had a lot to learn.
Really, we're going to talk about it?' Asked if he was going to play the Shanghai Masters next, Kyrgios replied: 'Yeah, I'm leaving at I think 8:00 tomorrow.
The Australian, who displayed his best in dumping out 20-year-old rising star Alexander Zverev in the semi-finals, said Nadal had "destroyed" him and admitted he had failed to react professionally.
1 Simona Halep 6-4, 7-6 (3) in the women's event.
Having then been angered by a line call the Australian proceeded to complain to the umpire which eventually cost him a penalty point at the start of the eighth game.
Nadal broke again for 4-0 lead and from there the result was never in doubt, with Kyrgios at least avoiding a second-set bagel.
He has made no bones about not taking tennis seriously enough, and on Monday said it was down to feeling like he had no real goal in life.
"Federer was playing such up-tempo, serve-volley, short-point type of tennis and I wondered if we'd ever see a place for the type of tennis Nadal played throughout his career", Croft explained.
It continues what has been a stellar year for the Spaniard as he not only won a record 10th French Open title and his third US Open title, but also returned to the top of the ATP tennis rankings for the first time since 2014.