The defending champion Rafael Nadal arrived at Caja Magica in 2011 as one of the favorites alongside Roger Federer and an in-form Novak Djokovic, as in the previous two years. The Spaniard beat Marcos Baghdatis in the second round and skipped the third-round clash against Juan Martin del Potro when the Argentine withdrew.
In the quarters, Rafa faced Michael Llodra and ousted the Frenchman 6-2, 6-2 in 75 minutes to sail into the semis and set another clash against Roger Federer, their third at Caja Magica. It was their only match on the ATP Tour, and Nadal had the upper hand from start to finish in front of his partisan crowd, serving at 73% and dropping eight points behind the initial shot.
Llodra was miles from those numbers, struggling on the second serve and giving away half of the points in his games to experience two breaks in each set. Rushing in front in every point behind the serve, Llodra suffered a break in the first game after netting an easy volley.
Rafael Nadal needed 75 minutes to beat Michael Llodra in Madrid 2011.
Nadal confirmed the advantage with a hold at love in game two thanks to a backhand winner at the net and extended the lead to 3-0 when Michael sprayed another volley mistake.
The Spaniard forced the opponent's error for another hold at love in game four, controlling the pace so far and looking good to bring the victory home in no time. Llodra saved a break point in game five to avoid a bagel and brought it home with a crafty volley to get his name on the scoreboard.
Rafa closed the sixth game with a smash winner before Michael held at 30 with a service winner to extend the set. Serving for the opener, Nadal closed it with an unreturned serve at 5-2 after 34 minutes, hoping for more in set number two.
The Spaniard clinched the second set's second game with a service winner and wasted a break chance in the next one that could have sent him in front. Creating four break chances at 2-2, Rafa seized the last with a forehand winner to move in front and gain momentum.
The crowd favorite fired the 25th winner since the start of the match to cement the lead and grabbed another break in the next game when Llodra's volley landed long. Serving for the win, Rafa landed three winners in game eight to seal the deal in style and sail into the semis.