Now up to 2,360 points separate him from Roger Federer and seems to have put himself in prime position to cap his 2017 campaign in No. 1 fashion. Kyrgios couldn't live with the Spaniard as the world No. 1 dropped just one game in a lopsided second stanza; the match included a sequence of nine straight games for Nadal.
In reaching his ninth final of the year, Kyrgios registered his third victory in four encounters with the 20-year-old German Zverev. Later, after saving break points in his opening game of the second set, Nadal took the lead again as he turned the screw on the 22-year-old.
The only previous time Kyrgios has faced a World No. 1, he came out with a victory, beating Nadal in the fourth round at Wimbledon in 2014 when he was ranked No. 144. He won the China Open crown, 12 years after he bagged his first trophy in the Chinese capital in 2005.
Nadal also avenged his loss to Kyrgios at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event in Cincinnati.
The 31-year-old Nadal, who remains undefeated since returning to world No. 1 on August 21, tightened his grip on the top spot in the Emirates ATP Race To London.
In Tokyo, David Goffin captured his second ATP title in a week at the Japan Open.
Kyrgios, who was going after a fourth career title, was already on a warning from umpire Mohamed Lahyani for something he said in disputing a call in the first game of the match. The win improved Goffin's record against Mannarino to 3-0. With the ATP Tour Finals just over a month away, Nadal is going to be a tough man to stop.
"I was lucky the first day saving the two match points but after that I think I played one of my best events of the year". In other matches, Jared Donaldson defeated Pablo Cuevas, 6-7 (7), 6-4, 6-4 in 2 hours and 21 minutes, while Gilles Simon ousted wild card Yibing Wu, 6-3, 6-4.