On this day: Roger Federer wins the first title on home soil in Gstaad


by   |  VIEW 1400
On this day: Roger Federer wins the first title on home soil in Gstaad

Back in 1998, Roger Federer had to make a quick journey from London to Gstaad as the newly crowned Wimbledon junior champion, receiving a wild card for the ATP event in Gstaad, his first in a career, still at the age of 16.

Six years later, Roger was the Wimbledon men's singles champion but was still committed to Gstaad, deciding to play there again. In that 2003, Roger received a cow as a special gift at the Centre Court in front of 6000 fans in Gstaad and the organizers wanted to give him another original present 12 months later, a full-size alpenhorn!

Gstaad 2004 was the 13th ATP tournament for Roger in Switzerland (seven in Gstaad and six in Basel), finally managing to win the title on the home soil, after three finals that he lost. Interestingly, Federer never found the form in Gstaad in the first five trips to this charming event, winning just one match before reaching the final in 2003, losing to Jiri Novak in thrilling five sets.

Ready to give Gstaad another chance, Roger returned in 2004 as world no. 1 and Wimbledon champion and it proved to be his year, going all the way to celebrate the first title at home. The transition from grass to clay is never smooth, especially in such a short period of time, and Roger struggled a lot in the last four matches, losing a set in all of them but passing all the obstacle to lifting the trophy just seven days after winning Wimbledon, becoming the first Swiss champion since 1980.

An unknown German Tomas Behrend was no match for Roger who lost only two games and stayed on the court for 47 minutes, saving energy for Friday when he was forced to play twice since the rain stopped the action on Thursday.

First, he prevailed against Ivo Karlovic in the final set tie break, followed by another challenging encounter against Radek Stepanek whom he beat 6-1, 5-7, 6-4. After those three hours and 30 minutes spent on the court, Federer faced Potito Starace in the semis and delivered a 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 triumph to reach the second consecutive Gstaad final.

There, Igor Andreev stood between Roger and the title and the Swiss claimed a 6-2, 6-3, 5-7, 6-3 triumph to earn the 18th ATP title and the seventh of the season. The encounter lasted for an hour and 58 minutes and Roger had the upper hand in sets he won, fending off two out of four break points (despite serving at 54%) and stealing the Russian's serve six times to march over the top.

The Swiss had the advantage in both the shortest and mid-range exchanges, hitting more winners and fewer number of unforced errors, losing focus a little bit in the closing stages of the third set before sealing the deal in the fourth.

Andreev hit a double fault in the fourth game to give Federer an early lead in the opener, securing it with another break in game eight for a 6-2 after less than 25 minutes. The Russian repelled two break points in the sixth game of the second set to stay on the positive side of the scoreboard before Roger broke him at love at 4-3, securing the set with four winners in the next game for a 6-3 after 25 minutes, moving a set away from the triumph in less than 50 minutes!

Igor netted a forehand in the third game of the third set to suffer another break, with Roger cementing the lead with a hold at love to move closer to the finish line. Out of sudden, Andreev broke back in game eight with a booming forehand down the line winner, firing another one to force an error from Roger at 6-5 and grab the set to extend the clash.

In the fourth game of the fourth set, Federer fended off a break point with a service winner and moved in front with a forehand winner in the next game that gave him a break and a 3-2 advantage, confirming the lead with a service winner that sent him 4-2 up.

Returning at 5-3, Roger grabbed another break that pushed him over the top, celebrating the title in front of the home fans and scoring the 25th win in the last 26 matches since Hamburg.