World number one Novak Djokovic said he needed all of his instinct to progress against Milos Raonic in the Madrid Open quarter-finals.
Djokovic prevailed 6-3 6-4 on Friday to improve to a 7-0 head-to-head record against the Canadian star, setting up a semi-final showdown with Kei Nishikori on the clay courts in the Spanish capital.
But faced with Raonic's huge serve, Djokovic took a lot of the pressure off himself by getting on top of the Australian Open semi-finalist's service game early.
"One of the keys of the match was getting as many returns back in play as possible," Djokovic said.
"I knew that before I stepped on the court that I should not give him too many free points on his serve. That's where the big servers get a lot of confidence.
"I returned exceptionally well. Every single player, especially big servers, have their patterns when it's close. But sometimes it's just instinct. It's just anticipation, trying to be in the right balance and looking at the toss."
Raonic missed just three first serves (18/21) in the first set, but Djokovic pounced on his only break-point opportunity to win the first set 6-3.
The Serb then broke Raonic after the first changeover in the second set to ensure progression to the final four in one hour, 44 minutes.