On this day: Roger Federer ousts Jiri Novak for maiden title in Vienna


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On this day: Roger Federer ousts Jiri Novak for maiden title in Vienna

Following the breakthrough run at Wimbledon 2001, Roger Federer added the first Masters 1000 crown to his tally in 2002 and three titles overall to finish the year just outside the top-5 despite failing to reach a Grand Slam quarter-final.

Sydney and Hamburg were Roger's lucky grounds in 2002 before conquering the third title of the season in Vienna on October 13, celebrating the second indoor crown and the fourth overall. The youngster had a busy schedule that year, entering a lot of tournaments and traveling to Vienna from Moscow where he lost in the quarter-final to Marat Safin in straight sets.

Roger loved to play in Austria and this was his fourth consecutive appearance in the capital city, going all the way to lift the crown that he would defend a year later against Carlos Moya. Federer made a strong start against Zeljko Krajan and had to work harder versus Tommy Robredo in round two, scoring a 6-2, 6-7, 6-4 win in just under two hours to enter the last eight.

Roger lost only nine points on serve against Bohdan Ulihrach in a commanding 6-3, 6-3 triumph that pushed him into the semis where Carlos Moya had nothing in his arsenal to challenge the Swiss who claiming a 6-2, 6-3 victory in just over an hour for the place in the title match against world no.

12 Jiri Novak. Federer needed two hours and nine minutes to prevail 6-4, 6-1, 3-6, 6-4 for the first indoor hard title, saving seven out of ten break chances and stealing rival's serve six times from 12 opportunities to secure the crown in four sets.

Novak managed to force a lot of errors from the Swiss but Roger dominated with his serve and forehand to fire more than 50 winners, playing better in the crucial moments to wrap up the encounter and claim the title. Federer had the advantage in the shortest and most extended exchanges, kicking off the clash in a stronger fashion for an early lead, breaking Novak in the sixth game after a solid forehand attack an firing a forehand winner in the next game to open up a 5-2 lead.

The Czech fended off two set points in game eight and broke back in the next game with a forehand winner, reducing the deficit to 5-4 and prolonging the set. Jiri wasted a game point and Roger found the way to score a break after a loose forehand from Novak, taking the opener 6-4 and building the momentum ahead of the remaining sets.

Still, the Czech was there to fight, converting the sixth break chance at the beginning of the second set and moving forward with a smash winner before losing the lead in the very next game when his backhand landed long. Federer placed a forehand down the line winner in the fourth game for another break of serve that sent him 3-1 up, repelling a break point with an ace in the game that followed to increase his advantage.

It was all about the Swiss in those moments, clinching another break in game six with a forehand down the line winner and closing the set with a solid hold that gave him two sets to love lead after just 69 minutes. Novak raised his level in the third set, serving well and breaking Roger at 4-3 to grab the set on his serve when Federer netted an easy backhand, taking the set 6-3 and extending his chances for a turnaround.

The Swiss kept his focus in set number four, though, dropping five points on serve and earning a break in the tenth game following a lucky net cord winner that carried him towards the fourth ATP title, continuing his charge through the rankings and returning into the top-10 where he would stay for the next 14 years!