Roger Federer recalls: ‘I do not have to be the favorite, that works to my advantage’

After a slow start of the season, Roger Federer picked the form in February 2003, winning titles in Marseille and Dubai and scoring four singles Davis Cup triumphs to propel Switzerland into the semi-final. Taking a few weeks off, Federer was back on the court in Munich at the end of April, lifting the title in style and looking good a week later in Rome, advancing to his second Masters 1000 final on clay. The Swiss failed to defend the Hamburg title and experienced an early loss to Luis Horna at Roland Garros before switching focus to grass. Roger took down Nicolas Kiefer in the Halle final for his first ATP crown on the fastest surface, gathering a boost ahead of Wimbledon, where he went all the way to claim the first Major trophy. Federer lost only one set in seven encounters at the All England Club, delivering incredible tennis against Andy Roddick and Mark Philippoussis to shake the pressure off his back and go all the way.

Roger Federer spoke about his chances ahead of the 2003 US Open.

With no rest, Roger competed at his home event in Gstaad on clay, suffering a five-set loss to Jiri Novak in the title match and earning a chance to become world no. 1 in Montreal and Cincinnati. In the semi-final of the Canada Open, Andy Roddick toppled Roger in the deciding set tie break to keep him away from the ATP throne, with the Swiss squandering another opportunity in Cincinnati. Heading to the US Open, Federer was among the title favorites, hoping for the first deep run in New York and another big trophy on his tally. For the Swiss, it was a positive fact that Andy Roddick was the top favorite, as he could focus on his game and the first notable run at the season’s last Major, which did not happen.

“I can say I’m ready to make the first big step at the US Open. I had a few days off before coming here to practice; I’m willing to improve my New York results. Facing Andy Roddick on hard and grass is an entirely different experience. In Montreal, he stood further behind on the second serve return and tried to be more aggressive on his second serve. The ball bounces much higher on hard court, and you have to play longer rallies from the back of the court. You have to be careful with your spins as well. I did not feel good in Cincinnati; I never felt the ball. I got lucky against Draper but not against Nalbandian, who knows how to compete against me. In the beginning, I did not feel good here in New York too. It did become better in the last two days, and I play only on Tuesday or Wednesday, so it should be o.k. People can pick Andy Roddick as the favorite; that does not change much. The pressure should be on him and not me, which is even better,” Roger Federer said.

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