California: World number five Rafael Nadal overpowered Japan`s Kei Nishikori 6-4, 6-3 to reach the Indian Wells semi-finals on Friday.
The swashbuckling Spaniard is looking for another stamp in his championship passport, having already won the joint ATP and WTA Tour hardcourt tournament in 2007, 2009 and 2013.
"I beat a top 10 player and that is something that is important for my confidence," Nadal said after the win over the top Japanese, currently ranked sixth in the world.
"Tomorrow is another opportunity for me to play against another top player and I am going to enjoy that," he said.
Nadal is also hoping to put to bed speculation that he is on a downward spiral. He has won 14 career Grand Slam titles but none in the past 18 months.
"I feel I am strong mentally and I have the right energy," Nadal said. "I am able to fight for every ball and I now believe in myself the whole match."
Nadal had just two aces but he really took care of his serve Friday by winning 62 percent of his first-serve points. He broke Nishikori four times.
He closed out the 93-minute match with a forehand down the line that Nishikori stumbled after but came nowhere close to getting a racquet on.
"He started so quickly," Nadal said of Nishikori. "Then he started to miss some of his first serves and I was returning his second serve so well. And I was serving well."
Nadal improved to 8-1 lifetime against Nishikori and avenged a loss in their most recent meeting last year at Montreal.
The Nadal-Nishikori contest kicked off a star-studded quarter-final day at Indian Wells featuring four of the world`s top 10 players.
Nadal will face the winner of Friday`s other quarter-final between world number one Novak Djokovic and France`s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, for a spot in the championship match.
Nadal and Djokovic are nearly even in their 47 head-to-head meetings, with the Serb owning a 24-23 edge. Nadal has beaten Tsonga eight times in 12 matches.