At the Australian Open 2004, Roger Federer became world no. 1 for the first time despite traveling to Melbourne without a coach. The Swiss had been working with Peter Lundgren since 2000, winning Masters 1000, a Major and the Masters Cup title with the Swede before they parted ways ahead of the 2004 season. Heading to Melbourne, Federer was eager to improve his results at the Australian Open and chase the no. 1 spot, missing the opportunity to grab it last August and September. Making a strong start against the opponents ranked outside the top-100, Federer sailed into the fourth round, facing Lleyton Hewitt. Seeking the third victory over the Aussie, Federer took down the home favorite in four sets, reaching the first Melbourne Park quarter-final and competing against David Nalbandian, just like a year ago. Roger won that one in four comfortable sets to earn the spot in the semis, with another youngster Juan Carlos Ferrero standing between him and the ATP throne.
The Swiss produced a steady performance to topple the Spaniard 6-4, 6-1, 6-4 in an hour and a half, advancing into the second Major final and becoming the 23rd world no. 1 since 1973. It was the fourth triumph for Roger over Juan Carlos, fending off all four break chances and forcing Ferrero to repeat those numbers. The Spaniard experienced four breaks of serve, doing his best in sets one and three but ending the campaign in the semis. Juan Carlos was the better player in the lengthy exchanges, but that wasn’t enough to keep him safe, as Roger forged his victory in the shortest rallies up to four strokes, dominating with his serve and forehand.
Roger Federer reached the 2004 Australian Open final without a coach.
Servers marched through the opening six service games, and it was Roger who had to dig deep at 3-3, repelling four break chances and earning a break at love at 5-4 to secure the opener. The Swiss clinched another break in the second set’s second game to increase his advantage, seizing another at 4-1 and firing a service winner in game seven to move closer to the finish line. Federer moved in front in the third set with a break at 3-3, serving well and emerging at the top with a service winner in the tenth game to become world no. 1 for the first time and set the title clash against Marat Safin. Asked about if other players will follow his path and play more without a coach in the future, Roger said he doesn’t care, staying focused on his career and decisions.
“I have no idea if the other players will follow my way; that’s up to them. I don’t care what the other guys do; all I care about is my own career,” Roger Federer said.