Roger Federer claimed his first ATP title in Milan 2001, gathering momentum and delivering three victories over the USA in the Davis Cup next weekend. The young Swiss was also the Marseille semi-finalist and the Rotterdam finalist, embracing an incredible indoor run and preparing for outdoor duties in the first Masters 1000 events of the season. Standing on the verge of the top-20, Roger lost to Nicolas Kiefer in the first match in Indian Wells, remaining on miserable two Masters 1000 victories from 11 tournaments at that level, taking some rest and hoping for a more positive outcome in Miami. In 2000, the Swiss scored his first victory at Crandon Park and was eager for more a year later, advancing into his first Masters 1000 quarter-final following victories over Younes El Aynaoui, Mark Philippoussis and Thomas Johansson after an epic battle.
Following two wins over the top-25 players, Roger faced world no. 8 Patrick Rafter in the clash for the semis, with the more experienced Aussie toppling the youngster 6-3, 6-1 in swift 56 minutes to sail into the next round. Patrick struggled on the second serve, but no one could notice that after a rock-solid performance on the first, dropping 14 points in eight service games and fending off both break chances he faced to mount the pressure on the other side of the net.
In 2001, Roger Federer lost his first Masters 1000 quarter-final in Miami.
Federer wasn’t ready to deal with it, hitting one ace and six double faults and dropping half of the points behind the initial shot to suffer four times from eight chances offered to his opponent. Rafter faced troubles in the first service game, fending off a break point with a service winner and firing two more to bring it home and avoid an early setback. The youngster was there to fight in the first six games before Patrick shifted into a higher gear to take ten of the last 11 games and cross the finish line in style.
The first break of serve came at 3-3 when Rafter landed a backhand down the line winner, confirming the advantage with four winners in the next game and breaking Roger at 15 at 5-3 to grab the opener after half an hour. Dominating with his serve and mesmerizing volleys at the net, Rafter brought home two easy holds at the beginning of the second set and secured a break with a perfect lob winner in the fourth game to open a 3-1 gap and take another big step towards the finish line. Serving at 1-4, Federer netted a backhand to suffer the fourth break and allowed Patrick to seal the deal with three winners a few minutes later and set the semi-final clash against Andre Agassi.