On this day, 17 years ago, Roger Federer played one of the most important matches in his early career, losing to Arnaud Di Pasquale in the bronze match at the Sydney Olympics by 7-6 6-7 6-3 in some 2 and a half hours. In his first complete season on the ATP Tour, Roger reached his first ATP final in Marseille at the age of 18, and he continued to gather experience, playing almost 30 tournaments that year.
He went to Sydney already ranked inside the Top 40 and he had some favorable draw before the semis, beating David Prinosil, Karol Kucera, Mikael Tillstrom and Karim Alami to advance to the last 4, coming so close to the Olympic medal! Tommy Haas was too strong in the semi-final, beating Roger 6-3 6-2, and Swiss youngster had to compete against Arnaud Di Pasquale for the bronze.
After a grueling battle, the Frenchman prevailed by 7-6 6-7 6-3, leaving young Roger empty-handed. Roger was 3-0 up in the first tie break, only to lose 7 out of the next 9 points and the breaker by 7-5. In the second set tie break, Federer saved a match point when he was 7-6 down, winning the next 3 points to steal it by 9-7 and send the match into a decider.
There, he had an early break and it seemed that he would bring the encounter home and grab a bronze, but Pasquale managed to break back and won the set by 6-3, taking that final place on the podium. Of course, the youngster was disappointed with this result but he will remember the Sydney Olympics for good, becoming a couple with fellow Swiss tennis player, Mirka Vavrinec, his future wife and one of the most influential persons in his life, that helped him a lot over the course of his career.