Roger Federer: ‘It was a big match considering my year-end no. 1 chances’

Roger Federer won his first Major crown at Wimbledon 2003, taking another big step towards the ATP throne. The Swiss could have become world no. 1 in Montreal, Cincinnati and the US Open, missing those chances and starting all over during the indoor fall season. Roger won the Vienna title and entered the Madrid Masters 1000 event a week later, seeking another deep run and more points on his tally in the year-end no. 1 battle with Andy Roddick and Juan Carlos Ferrero. The Swiss took down Alex Corretja 6-4, 6-3 in 70 minutes in the first match, getting broken once in the opener and stealing the rival’s serve thrice for a winning start. In the second encounter, Federer defeated Mardy Fish 6-3, 7-6 in an hour and 32 minutes to reach the quarters. Serving at only 50%, Roger hit four aces and five double faults, fending off two out of three break chances to keep the pressure on Mardy.

Roger Federer defeated Feliciano Lopez in three tight sets in Madrid 2003.

The American couldn’t match those numbers, struggling on the second serve and getting broken twice to propel the Swiss over the finish line. Federer had to work hard in a 4-6, 7-6, 6-4 triumph over Feliciano Lopez in two hours and 16 minutes in the quarter-final. The Swiss won four points more than the Spaniard, suffered one break in the opener and delivered his only successful return game in the decider to prevail and stay on the title course. Lopez had the opportunity to beat Federer in straight sets. He repelled 11 out of 12 break chances, falling short in the second set tie break and pushing Federer over the top after that single break the Swiss earned in the final set.

“I would have loved to win the match more easily, but you can’t do much about that. I played one poor service game with two double faults, despite knowing how Feliciano was going to play. I just hung in there, avoiding straight-sets defeat and giving everything I had to prevail. I can’t say much about our Wimbledon match; I was injured and didn’t play at my 100%. Also, I still can’t find the rhythm here in Madrid; the ball flies quickly, and it’s not easy to control the rallies or return. His first serve is big; he is a lefty and slices a lot; it’s not easy to play against him. I knew this is a big match in terms of my year-end no. 1 chances. Tomorrow, I play against another contender Juan Carlos Ferrero, and I hope I can beat him. I have seen a bit of him this week. He wasn’t missing too much, and I will have to serve well and play aggressive tennis, waiting for a short ball from him,” Roger Federer said. 

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