Back in 1998, Roger Federer had pursued junior year-end no. 1 position, conquering Wimbledon singles crown and losing in the final of the US Open to David Nalbandian. Federer turned 17 in August although his game was already on a high level, finishing the season just outside the top-300 on the ATP list and preparing himself for even bigger results in 1999.
In his breakthrough year, Roger scored 13 ATP wins from 30 matches, claiming Challenger title in Brest in October for the place in the top-70 at the end of the season as the youngest player in the elite group in front of Lleyton Hewitt and Andreas Vinciguerra.
Still at the age of 17, Roger had the opportunity to make a Masters 1000 debut in Miami, followed by the first Grand Slam appearance at Roland Garros that spring, losing to world no. 3 Patrick Rafter in four sets. On June 22, 1999, Roger Federer had made Wimbledon debut, playing a brave match against world no.
59 Jiri Novak before suffering a 6-3, 3-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 loss in swift two hours and 18 minutes on the fastest grass court. It was the first five-setter for Roger in his young career and the reigning junior champion certainly had his chances, leading two sets to one before the more experienced rival managed to turn the scoreboard around and leave a teenager empty-handed.
Roger had won seven points more than Jiri and repelled ten out of 15 break points to stay in touch as long as possible, keeping the pressure on his rival after creating 21 break chances. Novak fended off 17 of those to suffer just four breaks, playing with more focus in the closing stages of that final set to break the resistance of the beardless Swiss who would win 95 matches and eight Wimbledon crowns in the next 19 trips to world's leading event!
Roger had to leave Wimbledon after the opening round three times in the first four appearances (the quarter-final run in 2001 after beating Sampras) before going all the way at the All England Club in 2003, lifting the first Major title and forging unmatched chemistry with sacred Wimbledon courts.