Roger Federer claimed the first Major title at Wimbledon 2003, dropping one set in seven encounters to lift the trophy in style. A week later, Federer lost to Jiri Novak in five sets in Gstaad, taking some rest ahead of Montreal and Cincinnati, where he squandered a chance to become world no. 1 for the first time. The youngster had another opportunity to grab the ATP throne in New York, entering the US Open as one of the favorites. Like in the previous years, Roger couldn’t bring his A-game at the season’s last Major, beating Jose Acasuso, Jena-Rene Lisnard and James Blake before suffering a 3-6, 7-6, 6-4, 6-3 loss to David Nalbandian.
In their early meetings, the Argentine had the upper hand, prevailing over Federer two weeks earlier in Cincinnati in two tie breaks. The New York encounter lasted for two hours and 52 minutes, with many long rallies and unforced errors on both sides. Federer suffered six breaks from 16 chances offered to David, overcoming a 5-0 deficit in set number two before losing it in the tie break, in probably the most crucial moment of the entire encounter. With momentum on his side, Nalbandian had the upper hand in sets three and four to seal the deal and advance into the quarters, leaving Roger empty-handed during the North American swing.
Roger Federer shared his thoughts about the 2003 US Open loss to Nalbandian.
“I have had disappointing losses before; adding another one to that list doesn’t change much. It was tough to give the second set away after bouncing back to reach the tie break. Probably, that would have changed the encounter. I don’t know why I’m struggling against David; otherwise, I would beat him. It’s a pity for today’s loss, as I had my chances. I’m trying to figure out how to beat him; I can’t tell you more than that. He likes my game as he can play counterattack tennis, something he does exceptionally well. I never felt I had a great day against him, which has something to do with his game.
I don’t care about stats; I had some 90 unforced errors at Roland Garros, and soon after that, I sprayed two. Rallies were long today, and we both had more mistakes than winners. The rain delay didn’t affect my game, and it was the same for both of us. I had some small injuries that I took care of in the delays; they came right. I felt good in the first set, thinking I figured him out and had a game plan. Then, he raced into a 5-0 lead in set number two before I fought back; it’s weird to play against him. We know each other from the junior days, and he scored wins over me before; he knew he could do it again today,” Roger Federer said.