On this day: Roger Federer wins Munich title in dominant style

Roger Federer conquered the first Masters 1000 title in Hamburg 2002 on clay, beating Marat Safin and cracking the top-10 on the next day. With some ups and downs in the rest of the season, Roger finished in the top-6 and had a chance to make the Masters Cup debut. In 2003, the Swiss made an even stronger push towards the top positions, lifting seven titles and picking up the first Major at Wimbledon. From 58 triumphs in 2002, Federer notched 78 a year later, winning Marseille and Dubai and traveling to Indian Wells and Miami with the most wins in the season’s first two months. After mediocre results at the “Sunshine double,” Roger scored two wins for Switzerland in the Davis Cup against France and took a couple of weeks off to get ready for the clay-court events in May. In his first stop on the clay-court swing that spring, Federer competed in Munich for the first and only time, dominating over five opponents in Bavaria and dropping 27 games in ten sets en route to the seventh ATP title.

The Swiss found a perfect balance between essential defensive skills and his usual aggressive approach, suffering only five breaks and spending under five hours on the court overall to lift the trophy! The Croat Zeljko Krajan stayed on the court for 65 minutes, as Roger delivered a 6-4, 6-3 triumph, suffering two breaks and earning four to seal the deal in straight sets. The Swiss scored an identical victory over Raemon Sluiter in swift 59 minutes to find himself in the quarters, facing the only top-30 player that week, Mikhail Youzhny, and ousting the Russian 6-2, 6-3 in 61 minutes.

Roger Federer claimed the Munich Open title in 2003 without losing a set.

Roger gave away only 11 points in nine service games, and Mikhail was nowhere near that level, allowing Federer to break him thrice and race into the last four where he faced Stefan Koubek. The Austrian couldn’t match the youngster’s pace either, squandering all six break chances and dropping over half of the points behind the initial shot to hand Federer four breaks of serve and propel him into the 13th ATP final.

A good friend Jarkko Nieminen stood between world no. 5 and the trophy on May 4, and, like the previous four players, had no chance against Roger, who claimed a 6-1, 6-4 in 56 minutes to complete a perfect week. Nieminen made a solid base after landing 80% of the first serve in and taking Roger’s serve away twice. Still, he destroyed all that with poor performance in his service games, offering nine break opportunities to the Swiss and getting broken five times to lose the advantage in set number two and propel the rival over the top.

Federer had more winners and fewer unforced errors, dominating in the shortest exchanges and standing strong in the longest ones to deserve the triumph and lift the seventh ATP title in no time. Roger drew first blood in game two, and that set the tone for the rest of the opener, securing two more in the games that followed for 6-1. The Finn bounced back in set number two and raced into a 3-0 lead before dropping the next three games as quickly as he won those previous ones. At 4-4, Federer grabbed the crucial break and held after deuce for 6-4 and the crown, the third of the season that would only get better two months later at Wimbledon when he claimed the maiden Major title. 

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