Second seed Novak Djokovic won his sixth match in succession over Julien Benneteau on Friday and will next face American John Isner in the semi-finals of the Indian Wells Masters.
Serbia’s Djokovic defeated his French opponent 6-1, 6-3 while Isner recovered trailing 4-2 in the second set, beating Ernests Gulbis of Latvia 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (7-3).
Djokovic owns the Isner series 4-2, but lost to the two-metre-plus player in a 2012 Indian Wells semi-final before Isner went onto exit the final at the hands of Roger Federer.
Djokovic, playing in only his third event of 2014, has yet to win a title this season. Federer and Alexsandr Dolgopoov will play the other Saturday semi after advancing on Thursday.
In women’s semi-finals at the joint ATP-WTA event, top-seeded Li Na will take on Italian veteran Flavia Pennetta in a series that began in 2000 between the pair, while second-seeded Pole Agnieszka Radwanska plays Romanian Simona Halep, the number six.
Djokovic, coached this week by longtime mentor Marian Vajda while new co-coach Boris Becker takes a break before returning next week in Miami, took just 68 minutes to secure his place in the final four at the Tennis Garden.
“I was very focused on the court from the start, that’s what I was looking for,” said the winner. “In the first few matches, I played good tennis but I had some ups and downs.
“Today was very stable from the first to the last point. He made a lot of unforced errors, and obviously I just needed to make him play an extra shot and serve well.
“I did everything I wanted,” Djokovic said.
The world number two Serb ended with seven aces while breaking Benneteau on 11 of 15 chances. Djokovic improved to 6-1 over the Frenchman, whose only win in the series came eight years ago.
Djokovic won the title in 2008 and 2011, and if he can lift a third will move to joint second in the all-time leaderboard behind four-time champion Federer.
Djokovic improved to 34-6 at the tournament after playing in his seventh quarter-final.
“It’s important for me to do well, I’m on the right path and playing semi-finals,” said Djokovic. “For me is always of course a challenge and a good result, but I want to try to go as far as I can.”