Roger Federer and Juan Carlos Ferrero met in the 2003 Madrid Masters semi-final, fighting for a place in the title clash and the year-end no. 1 spot. The home player took down Federer 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 in an hour and 52 minutes for his fifth Masters 1000 final and first outside clay. Juan Carlos took one point more than Roger, losing serve once and producing two breaks to cross the finish line first. The Swiss had more winners and more forced errors, building a slight advantage in the shortest rallies and losing it in the more extended exchanges to keep Ferrero in contention. The Spaniard grabbed a break in the opener’s fifth game and dropped two points behind the initial shot to control the scoreboard and seize it 6-4. Federer took charge in set number two, serving well and earning a break at 15 in the tenth game to set a decider where he had the upper hand. Still, Ferrero played on a higher level, clinching a break in game five after a return winner and a couple of Roger’s double faults before bringing the encounter home on his serve in game ten.
In Madrid 2003, Juan Carlos Ferrero toppled Roger Federer in three sets.
“I was not happy with my game today. I had some good moments, but it was full of ups and downs in the others. My return was horrible in the first set. Maybe he has improved his serve, I do not know, but it worked well for him. I was struggling with the rhythm and reading the rival’s serve. Things got better for me in sets two and three, but not enough to cross the finish line first. I played consistent tennis for an entire season. I needed a couple of years to reach that level and stay on a high note for three or four consecutive weeks. I never got the rhythm here in Madrid; I have been saying that from the first match. Despite that, I reached the semi-final and fought against world no. 1. I’m tired now, but I have to give my best in Basel next week; playing in front of the home fans motivates me a lot. My first match will be on Tuesday, and we will see what happens. This encounter was important for the year-end no. 1 battle, and Ferrero has an advantage over me now,” Roger Federer said.