In 2001, Roger Federer had made a breakthrough run at Wimbledon, beating the seven-time champion Pete Sampras in the fourth round before falling in the quarters to Tim Henman in four tight sets. Twelve months later, Roger was already ranked inside the top-10 and was one of the favorites at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, hoping to go even further than in 2001.
Nonetheless, 2003 Wimbledon turned out to be rather quick and unsuccessful one for Federer, stunned by an 18-year-old Mario Ancic 6-3, 7-6, 6-3 on June 25. In what was his first Grand Slam match (he was the runner-up at the junior event two years before), the Croat ranked 154th had to qualify for the main draw as one of the youngest players in the field, entering only the second ATP event after Miami three months earlier.
The defending champion Goran Ivanisevic was not in the draw and Mario had stood as a perfect replacement for him (they are from the same town of Split), firing one booming serve after another to keep Federer without any rhythm, with his return working better than Roger's as well.
Ancic needed an hour and 40 minutes to take down the most prominent youngster at that moment, repelling five out of six break points and stealing Roger's serve on three occasions to notch a straight sets triumph, his first on the ATP level!
Also, Ancic was the youngest player to make a winning Wimbledon Centre Court debut since Bjorn Borg in distant 1973, drawing only the positive vibes from the big scene and delivering a barrage of aggressive and attacking strokes to leave Roger behind and celebrate the proudest moment in a career up to that point!
The Croat kicked off the encounter in the best possible way, breaking Federer twice in the opening set to take it 6-3 in just 29 minutes. There were no breaks in the second set and Mario won the tie break 7-2, playing better when it mattered the most and sealing Federer's fate with a break in the fourth game of the third set, bringing the match home without any troubles or loose moments that would have been expected from an inexperienced teenager.
Ancic outplayed Federer in all departments that day, serving better, covering the net superbly and doing more damage with his groundstrokes. After the match, Roger said he underestimated Mario, knowing nothing about him and what to expect in that encounter while Mario received tips from Goran before the clash, with Goran's father Srdjan watching him from the box.
Mario would lose in the second round to Jan Vacek and couldn't deliver the same level of tennis we had seen from him against Federer in the rest of the season, catching the last train to win back-to-back indoor carpet Challengers in November to secure the place in the top-100 for the first time.