A tournament plagued with falling seeds, withdrawals and retirements will at least enjoy a high-powered final after Petra Kvitova and Eugenie Bouchard set up a showdown at the inaugural Wuhan Open on Friday.
Canadian Bouchard will get the chance to avenge her crushing defeat by Kvitova in the Wimbledon final after she dispatched US Open runner-up Caroline Wozniacki 6-2 6-3.
Czech Kvitova beat Ukraine's Elina Svitolina 6-3 7-5.
Whoever wins Saturday's final will seal a place in the season-ending WTA Finals in Singapore next month.
Sixth seed Bouchard blasted 28 winners to overwhelm the resistance of Wozniacki who did not play badly.
"I think I played very aggressively, and it was all about trying to maintain it," Bouchard said.
"Of course I expected some resistance, and she definitely made me fight for every point, but I was happy with the way I was serving and stepping in and the way I kind of regathered by concentration."
Kvitova had lost her only previous meeting with Svitolina but was always the dominant player this time, winning the first set with ease and edging the second after surrendering an early break of service to the world number 34.
Organisers will be breathing a sigh of relief that they will at least have a marquee final.
"It's going to be nice to play Genie in the final, so we can have a repeat match of the final at Wimbledon," Kvitova, who won the Wimbledon final for the loss of only three games, said.
"She's a very good mover and plays very aggressively from the baseline - she takes the balls very early and returns very well. Those are some of the things she does great."
After local heroine Li Na announced her retirement from the sport on the eve of the tournament, world number one Serena Williams withdrew through illness and Maria Sharapova was bundled out by Swiss qualifier Timea Bacsinszky.
Former world number one Victoria Azarenka also withdrew before the tournament started while second seed Simona Halep lost in the second round and Jelena Jankovic retired with a back injury.
With Li standing seventh in the Singapore race despite her retirement, Wozniacki currently occupies the final qualification place for the season finale.