Roger Federer was the winningest player in the early stages of the 2003 season, lifting trophies in Marseille and Dubai and playing at a high level in Munich and Rome. After an early exit at Roland Garros, Roger found the best of his game on grass, winning the title at Halle and conquering Wimbledon in impressive style for his first Major title at 21 years old.
With no time to rest or celebrate, Federer returned home and reached the final in Gstaad, losing in five sets to Jiri Novak and taking a couple of weeks off before Montreal, where he had a chance to become world number one.
Federer lost to Andy Roddick in the semifinals of the deciding match, staying away from the ATP throne and narrowly escaping an early exit in Cincinnati a week later. Scott Draper, ranked 114th, had seven match points against the Swiss before Roger prevailed 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(10) after two hours and two minutes.
Federer fended off the most match points to that point in his career, repeating that alone in Melbourne last January against Tennys Sandgren. Roger rejected nine out of ten break chances. Still, he couldn’t find the rhythm on the return, scoring a break in the second set and surviving those scary moments in the closing stages of the decider to avoid an upset loss and proceed to the second round.
“It should have ended when he opened up a 6-2 lead in the tie-break, but I survived. I don’t think I’ve saved seven match points before, although I don’t remember those matches; they’re not that often. It was a difficult match for me.
He played well to win chances, stayed aggressive and secured a lot of free points on his serve. I was getting used to the conditions; it’s different than Montreal, and I couldn’t make an easy transition.”
King Roger is almost ready to return
On the occasion of the Swiss National Day, we offer you a little flashback around the youth of the most famous Swiss: Roger Federer.
Indeed, in 2006, questioned by the Telegraph his mother in a few simple words had depicted the character and the ambition of his son. “When he behaved badly, we told him that his attitude bothered us, we kept telling him: “Come on, Roger, control yourself, take it upon yourself” When he played football, he also cried. I told him that losing a match was not such a big disaster. But it just showed how determined he was to succeed.”