Entering the season from outside the top-300, the 17-year-old Roger Federer embraced a stellar run in 1999, making his first big steps on the Tour and finishing as one of the youngest players in the elite top-100 group, together with Guillermo Coria, Lleyton Hewitt, Andreas Vinciguerra and his junior doubles partner Olivier Rochus.
Super talented Swiss had the opportunity to make a Davis Cup debut against Italy, helping his country to claim the overall win before losing against the Belgians in Brussels on clay. Switzerland had the opportunity to compete in the World Group in 2000 as well, hosting the defending champions Australia in Zurich on an indoor carpet surface.
The tie took place on February 4-6, with Lleyton Hewitt who kicked off the action with a four-set triumph over George Bastl, with Roger Federer and Mark Philippoussis stepping on the court for the second singles rubber. After a great battle of the future Wimbledon finalists, Roger scored a 6-4, 7-6, 4-6, 6-4 victory in two hours and 40 minutes to level the overall score and keep Switzerland in contention before the Saturday's doubles match that he also played.
It was an entertaining battle between two great servers and attacking players, producing many winners on the fast surface and plenty of charming points that kept the crowd in Zurich satisfied. Mark saved break chances in the opening game to avoid an early setback, with Roger putting his name on the scoreboard after an ace in game two.
The youngster was in excellent rhythm, drawing first blood in the fifth game when Philippoussis sprayed a volley error to get broken and send Roger 3-2 up. Serving for the set, the Swiss fired three winners at 5-4 to secure the opener, hoping for more of the same in the rest of the encounter.
Mark bounced back in the fourth game of the second set, scoring his first break of the match when Roger netted an easy forehand and confirming the lead with an ace a few minutes later that propelled him 4-1 up. Serving for the set at 5-3, Philippoussis got broken at love after a beautiful backhand down the line winner from Federer who won the tie break 7-3 thanks to a volley winner for a complete comeback and a massive two sets to love advantage.
The Aussie repelled a break opportunity in the second game of the third set and forced an error from Federer in the next game to gain another lead. Unlike in the second set when he played a loose service game in the crucial moment, Philippoussis blasted four winners in the tenth game to grab the set 6-4 and prolong the encounter, winning just six points less than Federer so far and preparing himself for another assault in set number four.
He had a chance to strike an early break that would have given him an even more significant momentum, denied by Roger who fended off three break chances in the opening game to stay on the positive side of the scoreboard, struggling in game three as well before delivering another vital hold for a 2-1.
Mark held with a service winner in the eighth game to level the score at 4-4, serving to stay in the match after a significant hold from Roger that pushed him 5-4 in front. Carried by the home crowd, Roger opened that tenth game with a forehand winner and earned a crucial break when Mark hit a double fault to seal the deal and celebrate one of the most significant wins of his young career up to that point.