A year after he won the junior singles title, Roger Federer made his Wimbledon debut in 1999, losing the opening round in his first two visits to the All England Club. 2001 changed everything, young Swiss dethroned seven-time champion Pete Sampras before losing to Tim Henman in the quarters, proving to everybody that he is the force to be reckoned with at the most prestigious tennis event.
In 2002, Mario Ancic stunned him in the first round but Roger was ready to go all the way a year later, lifting his first Grand Slam title after a spectacular performance. The rest is history, as he became one of the biggest legends of Wimbledon and tennis in general, and in this article, we will examine his 7-6 6-3 6-3 triumph over another promising youngster Andy Roddick. This was one of the most important matches of their careers so far, as Federer advanced to his first Grand Slam semi-final, while Andy already did that in Melbourne a few months earlier, hoping to book the place in his first final on the biggest tennis stage.
Just like Roger, the American lost just one set en route to the last 4, but he stood no chance against an amazing rival, who did just about everything right to score the win in an hour and 43 minutes, especially overpowering Roddick in sets 2 and 3 with some mind-blowing tennis.
Andy would struggle against Roger throughout the career, winning 3 matches of 24 played, and Swiss had the upper hand earlier in their rivalry, beating Andy in all 4 matches including this one at Wimbledon, and winning 9 out of 10 sets played! Federer was the favorite and he presented pinnacle grass court tennis, hitting more than 70 winners in total and committing just 20 unforced errors, leaving Roddick with no answer.
It has to be said that American had a set point in the tie break of the first set but he failed to convert it, and he never got a second chance against the opponent who pretty much flew over the court in the rest of the encounter, with the momentum firmly on his side.
Federer was more aggressive, coming to the net more often and risking more with his groundstrokes, which gave him the edge in the points, keeping them on his racquet. Attacking tennis usually brings errors as well, and one might have been expecting to see a lot of those on Roger's tally, but not in this match, as he tamed his shots beautifully.
Overall, he had just 6 mistakes more than Andy and he overshadowed him in the winners segment that Andy should have been grateful that he stayed in touch in at least one set. Roger made a lot of damage with his sharp and precise serve, hitting 34 service winners while Roddick stayed on 25 (officially, Andy had just 4 aces but, as always, service winners delivers much wider picture).
Also, the Swiss charged forward every time he would land the first serve in, smartly opting to stay behind after the second serve and build the point from the baseline. Andy had 9 volley winners but it was clear that he didn't feel comfortable there, exposed against Roger's accurate groundstrokes, and we didn't see the serve&volley game from him.
In addition, Federer covered the court like probably no one before him on this surface, with great anticipation and the ability to predict the next move from his opponent. Roddick's groundstrokes were pretty much off and he managed to hit just 7 winners and force 15 errors from Roger.
In comparison to that, Federer fired 17 forehand winners alone, a clear illustration of his dominance, from both the baseline and at the net. Roddick stayed in touch with Federer in the longest rallies, but he always had to find one or two extra shots to penetrate his rival or to get the mistake from him, and there was no chance he could endure in that rhythm in the entire match.
If we consider the whole package of serve, return, offensive and defensive game, this was one of the most impressive and explosive Wimbledon wins of Roger Federer, and we all know he has had many over the years! As we already said, Federer outplayed Roddick in service winners, by 34-25, and that could only mean trouble for Andy, who served at 58% and lost 36% of the points in his games.
On the other hand, Roger dropped 17 points in 15 service games + the tie break, and he had only one sloppy moment in his games, at the start of the second set when he saved 2 lone break points he faced in the entire match (he broke Andy 3 times from 8 chances).
Roger made the biggest difference in the winners from the field department, striking 40 against only 20 for Andy, far from enough to keep him in contention or to put Roger under more pressure, especially on the return. Roger had 17 winners from his forehand and 12 from a volley, that worked better and better as the match progressed, while Roddick stayed on 3 forehand winners, needing much more than that to stay competitive.
They had a similar number of unforced errors, 20 for Roger and 17 for Andy, who made the biggest one on that set point in the first set. Also, Roger made 3 forced errors more, 15-12, which brings the total number of mistakes to 35-29 for Roger.
That was irrelevant when we know that he had 74 winners in total opposed to only 45 from Andy, and these are the roots of Federer's triumph in this one. Almost 68% of the points ended with the maximum number of 4 shots, which was expected in the matches between these two, and Roger had a significant 70-54 advantage, thanks to service winners but also the superior first shot after the serve, no matter it was a groundstroke or a volley.
Federer also had the edge in the mid-range rallies, winning 27 out of 46, and it was 7-6 for Andy in 13 longest exchanges, but that was trivial for the overall result. The match started in an unexpected way, with 10-stroke rallies, that both went to Roddick's side after forehand errors from Roger, and the American closed the game with a volley winner and another one from his serve.
In the second game, Federer fired 3 service winners to get his name on the scoreboard, and he had his first break point already in game 3. He found the rhythm on the return early on and he earned that break point with a forehand winner, only to be denied by Andy, who won 2 longer rallies and closed the game with a nice smash.
Swiss tried to rush to the net in game 4 after the serve, sending 2 volleys long, but he made a hold with 2 winners for a 2-2. Amazing backhand winner gave Roger 15-30 on the return in the 5th game but Roddick fired 2 service winners to avoid further troubles and move in front again.
Federer quickly got back to 3-3 with 4 winners in game 6, his groundstrokes worked much better than the American's and he felt more comfortable on the court so far. We saw 6 winners in game 7, Roger again won 2 points on the return but Andy stayed in front with 3 winners from the field, which was very important for him, as he had only 5 service winners in the opening 4 service games.
Federer was still in the full control in his games, he leveled the score with 4 service winners in game 8, and Roddick gained another lead with 2 service winners and one longer rally in the 9th game, although Roger again took 2 points on the return.
American was powerless in the return games, Federer made the result even at 5-5 with more free points from his initial shot, and he was 2 points away from breaking Roddick in game 11, only to finish the game with 2 errors.
Swiss wrapped up the regular games with 3 winners in game 12 to set up the tie break, and it was a very interesting one. He made a mini-break in the very first point, taking a 14-stroke rally, but Roddick got it back in the next point to erase the deficit.
Roger was 4-2 ahead after another mini-break but Andy won the next 3 points to grab the lead for the first time, and he earned a set point at 6-5 after another great return. Nonetheless, he sent a routine forehand into the net, and this will prove to be one of the most important points of the match.
Roger created his first set point after another good point on the return, and he clinched the set with a service winner, taking the breaker by 8-6. Federer had a clear advantage in service winners, 17-9, and also from the court, striking 15 winners against 10 from Andy.
Swiss also made a few unforced errors more, 13-9, and they both had 4 forced errors. Roddick had to work more in his service games to obtain the positive scoreline and he never recovered from that wasted set point. The first game of the second set brought the first and only troubles for Roger on his serve in the entire match, facing 2 break points.
Andy returned well and he stayed in the game with 2 winners from the field, earning his first break point after a solid attack. Roger saved it with a forehand volley winner after a 13-stroke rally, but he faced another break chance right after.
This time he found his serves, clinching the game with 3 service winners and sending the pressure back to Roddick. The American couldn't hold it and we saw the first break in the match. Roger won 3 mid-range exchanges to create a 15-40 lead, Andy saved both break points with winners and he even had a game point but it wasn't to be, as Roger broke with a beautiful forehand winner, in one of the points of the match.
Swiss cemented his break with 3 winners in game 3 and it was much easier for him to control the match now, with a set and a break in his pocket. Both players served well until the end of the set and Federer shifted into a higher gear in his service games, controlling the points superbly at the net, losing just 2 points in his last 4 games and rattling off 12 winners in the last 12 points on serve, leaving Roddick without even a small chance to make something significant on the return and try to pull the break back.
In set number 2, Andy had a slight 10-8 advantage in service winners but Roger simply blew him away from the court in the winners from the field department, striking 17 in just 9 games and leaving Roddick on only 5! They had just 3 unforced errors each and Federer made 1 forced error more than his rival (5-4), which of course couldn't change anything.
The set was decided in those first 2 games and Roger's level after that was simply incredible, probably good enough to parry Pete Sampras on this very same court from his best days! The third set started with 4 easy holds on both sides but that didn't last for long.
Federer landed 3 winners in game 5 to create a break point, and he converted it after a sloppy backhand slice from Roddick, who could see clear writings on the wall following this shot, knowing that his Wimbledon run came to its end.
We saw 3 winners from each in the next couple of games and Roger moved 5-3 in front with 3 more direct points in game 8, in what was his 8th consecutive commanding hold. Andy served to stay in the match in game 9 and he was overpowered once again, Roger blasted 4 winners to create a match point and he converted it after Roddick's error, moving through to his maiden Grand Slam final.
Swiss had a 9-6 lead in service winners, which shows how well he played on the return, and it was 8-5 for him in the winners from the court. They were close to each other in the unforced errors, with Andy making 5 and Roger 4, and Roger had 2 forced mistakes more than his opponent, 6-4, and it was clear that Roger again gained the advantage with his brave and attacking game.
Point by point result and the number of shots in the rallies: