In 2003, we had a chaotic Wimbledon from the first round, with the defending champion Lleyton Hewitt bowing out in the opening match against Ivo Karlovic. Eight players reached the quarter-final without winning Wimbledon before, setting the scene that hadn’t been seen since 1973 and leaving the door wide open for everyone. One name would stand above them all in the end, with Roger Federer beating Andy Roddick and Mark Philippoussis in the semis and the final to claim his first Major crown at 21. Federer was the quarter-finalist at Wimbledon in 2001, ousting the seven-time champion Pete Sampras in five thrilling sets before losing a tight battle versus Tim Henman.
Two years later, Federer was among the title favorites, overcoming a back injury in the fourth round against Feliciano Lopez and never looking back to grab his first out of 20 Major crowns. In the final, Federer toppled Mark Philippoussis 7-6, 6-2, 7-6 in an hour and 56 minutes, never facing a break point and doing everything right in both tie breaks to lift the trophy. The Swiss lost only 19 points behind the initial shot, mounting the pressure on the other side of the net and playing on a higher level when it mattered the most to leave the Aussie behind.
Roger Federer spoke about Pete Sampras after winning first Wimbledon title in 2003.
With over 70 winners and under ten unforced errors, Federer delivered an almost perfect performance en route to the first Major title. Never losing focus, Roger overpowered Philippoussis in both the shortest and more extended rallies (only three points with over eight strokes) to seal the deal and kick off his journey towards one of the greatest players of all time. Mark gave his best to remain in touch in sets one and three, firing 50 service winners but failing to match Roger’s pace and take at least a set.
“In comparison to Pete Sampras, this is my first title while he stands on seven. I’m still very far from him but happy to be on the board. A lot of players who have won here are my idols. It feels great to share the list with Bjorn Borg and other people, and it’s incredible to join them on a Major history list,” Roger Federer said.