After winning the title in 2009 and reaching the final a year later, Roger Federer returned to Caja Magica in Madrid for another strong run at a fast clay-court Masters 1000 event. His 2011 campaign could have been a short one, though, having to save a match point against Feliciano Lopez in the first match before prevailing 7-6, 6-7, 7-6 in just under three hours.
In the third round, the Swiss toppled Xavier Malisse in 71 minutes to set the quarter-final clash against Robin Soderling, who defeated him at Roland Garros a year ago. The Madrid duel was their 17th and last, with Federer scoring a 7-6, 6-4 triumph in an hour and 43 minutes for the 16th victory over the Swede, moving into the last four and joining Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.
Robin served at 53% and gave his best to draw the most from that and stay in touch with a better-ranked opponent, fending off five out of six break chances and taking ten points fewer than Roger. The Swiss did everything right in his games, saving both break opportunities offered to the Swede and playing better when it mattered the most to seal the deal in straight sets and face Rafael Nadal for the third consecutive year at Caja Magica.
Roger held in the opening game with a perfect drop shot, followed by a hold at love from Soderling, who leveled the score at 1-1.
Roger Federer defeated Robin Soderling in the 2011 Madrid Open quarter-final.
Robin stayed in touch in the opening 40 minutes, serving to stay in the set at 4-5 when Federer created two set points, denied by winners from the Swede who survived that test to prolong the action.
Soderling saved another set point with a perfect volley winner in the 12th game to reach a tie break. He couldn't find his strokes when needing them the most, allowing Federer to close the breaker with a service winner on the fourth set point at 6-2 after an hour.
In the second set's third game, Robin defended two break chances to keep his serve intact and earned a massive opportunity to move in front at 3-2 after opening a 40-15 advantage on the return. Staying calm, Federer repelled both break points and closed the game with a crafty forehand winner to lock the result at 3-3.
A lucky net cord winner provided a break chance for Roger in the ninth game, converting it with a marvelous volley winner to secure the encounter's first break and serve for the triumph. Three winners in that tenth game were enough for Federer to seal the deal, advancing into the semi-final at Caja Magica for the third straight year and arranging another meeting with Rafael Nadal.