After a couple of miserable months and the results that were not in correlation with his ranking position, Roger Federer finally found the form in Vienna in October 2002 for the season’s third title and the fourth overall. In the final, Roger took down Jiri Novak 6-4, 6-1, 3-6, 6-4, saving seven out of ten break chances and stealing rival’s serve six times from 12 opportunities to secure a much-needed title. Novak managed to force many errors from the Swiss, but Roger dominated with his serve and forehand to fire over 50 winners, playing better in the crucial moments to wrap up the encounter and avoid a decider. Federer kicked off the clash in a more reliable fashion for an early lead, breaking Novak in the sixth game after a solid forehand attack and firing a forehand winner in the next one to open up a 5-2 lead. The Czech fended off two set points in game eight and broke back a few minutes later with a forehand winner, reducing the deficit to 5-4 and prolonging the first set’s action.
Jiri wasted a game point in the next game, and Roger found a way to score a break after the Czech’s loose forehand, taking the opener 6-4 and building momentum ahead of the remaining sets. Still, Novak was there to fight, converting the sixth break chance at the beginning of the second set and moving forward with a smash winner before losing the lead in the very next game when his backhand landed long. Federer placed a forehand down the line winner in the fourth game for another break of serve that sent him 3-1 up and repelled a break chance with an ace a few minutes later to increase the advantage. It was all about the Swiss in those moments, with another break on his tally in game six thanks to a forehand down the line winner, closing the set with a solid hold that gave him two sets to love lead after just 69 minutes.
Roger Federer won the Vienna best-of-five final ahead of Masters 1000 event in 2002.
Novak raised his level in the third set, serving well and breaking Roger at 4-3 to grab the set on his serve when Federer netted an easy backhand. The Swiss kept his focus in set number four, though, dropping five points behind the initial shot and earning a break in the tenth game following a lucky net cord winner that carried him towards the fourth ATP title. Thus, Roger continued his charge through the rankings and returned to the top-10, where he would stay for the next 14 years! A couple of days later in Madrid, Roger defeated Marcelo Rios 6-4, 6-2 in the second round to extend the winning streak, mentioning that Vienna final and saying he doesn’t understand why they have to play the best-of-five finals ahead of the more important Masters 1000 tournaments.
“It’s normal that I’m quite tired after Vienna. I don’t understand why we have to play the best-of-five finals ahead of the Masters 1000 event; that’s not very smart. Luckily, I’m seeded in Madrid, and I had a bye and a chance to start the tournament on Wednesday. If it had to be Tuesday, it would have been challenging for me because I would have had no time to practice at all. Maybe we should have the best-of-three finals before the Masters Series and Majors,” Roger Federer said.