The 31-year-old was given a tough fight early on but Kyrgios's challenge faded after he lost his temper and was docked a penalty point at 2-5 in the first set.
The first four or five games were hotly contested and of sublime quality, but Nadal's returning, which was vastly better than it was in a loss to Kyrgios this summer in Cincinnati, and clutch serving wore down Kyrgios, who also let a bad call in the first game fester in his mind.
The Spaniard remains unbeaten since he became world number one in August and put in a ruthless display on his way to his 75th career title. The victory also allowed him to surpass 60 wins in a season for the ninth time.
Going into the China Open ranked 19, Kyrgios scored redemptive wins over Zverev and the German's brother, Alexander, before his title bid unravelled in the final against Nadal.
After losing the first set 6-2, Kyrgios performed impatiently on the court.
"He has a massive future ahead and I'm really good friends with him so it's always fun playing him".
Halep's best opportunity to rebound against Garcia ended when she failed to make good on any of the nine break points she had at 3-3 in the second set.
Goffin has now moved into the final automatic qualification spot for next month's ATP finals in London. I think I've found my goal in the last couple of months.
Relishing Sunday's clash with Nadal, the Spanish 16-time Grand Slam champion, Kyrgios added: "He's one of the greatest players of all time and we've played a couple of times - he's beaten me and I've beaten him (this year)".
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