Indian Wells, California: Top seed and defending champion Novak Djokovic advanced to the semi-finals of the Indian Wells Masters Thursday, easing past 12th seeded Nicolas Almagro 6-3, 6-4.
World number one Djokovic has now beaten Almagro in all three career meetings and he reached the Indian Wells semis for the third time in as many years.
He is coming off one of the best years in the history of tennis, as he started off 2011 with 41 consecutive match wins. He is now 14-1 in 2012.
"I have had a lot of success here in the past and won it twice," Djokovic said. "Last year was incredible. I may not be able to repeat what I did but I will try my best.
Djokovic next faces either France's Gilles Simon or John Isner of the United States. They squared off in the night match on centre court on Thursday in the other quarter-final from the top half of the draw.
Serbia's Djokovic hammered five aces and won 77 percent of his first serve points in the 82 minute match.
"What made me happy was my serve," he said. "I served well. I didn't lose many points on my service games in both sets, and that's something that I have been working on. I have been trying to get more free points on the first serves."
Djokovic broke Almagro two times in taking the first set in 30 minutes. He had a tougher time in the second set as Almagro started to connect with his first serve.
Tied 3-3 in the second set and serving in the seventh game, Almagro hit a backhand winner to reach game point. He then closed the game out with an ace to take a 4-3 lead.
But Djokovic won the next three games, breaking Almagro's serve in the ninth game of the second and then served for the victory. He clinched the match on his first match point with a backhand winner.
"It was never going to be easy," Djokovic said. "Nicolas is a top 15 player. Even though he is a clay court specialist he can play well on hardcourts."
Almagro is one of the busiest players on the ATP Tour this year as Indian Wells was his seventh tournament. He captured his 11th career singles title in Sao Paulo last month.
Djokovic says it doesn't get easier from here on.
"As the tournament goes on you're going to play more difficult opponents," he said. "It's gonna get tough out there, and it's really important to hold your composure and try to play as best as you can.
"But I have played so many matches on the tour and the big stage, major events, and I learned over the years what I need to do in order to play my best when it matters the most."