On this day: Roger Federer tops Feliciano Lopez for first title as No. 1



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On this day: Roger Federer tops Feliciano Lopez for first title as No. 1

Back in 2003, Roger Federer claimed the first title in Dubai, earning the first Major crown at Wimbledon three and a half months later and getting a chance to become world no. 1 in August. That had to wait until February 2004, with Federer securing the second Major title in Melbourne to grab 1000 points and take the ATP throne on the next day for the first time.

Playing as world no. 1 at his first ATP tournament, Federer lost in the quarter-final in Rotterdam to Tim Henman, taking some rest and returning to the court in Dubai where he was the defending champion. In the repeat of the Australian Open final, Roger prevailed against Marat Safin in two tie breaks in the first round, defeating Tommy Robredo, Andrei Pavel and Jarkko Nieminen to reach the second straight Dubai final, facing Feliciano Lopez in the battle for the title.

On March 7, Roger took down Feliciano 4-6, 6-1, 6-2 in an hour and 35 minutes, becoming the first player who managed to defend the crown in Dubai and lifting his first trophy as world no. 1. Roger lost 16 points in 13 service games, getting broken once in the opener that cost him the set and dominating in sets two and three to score four breaks and notch the 13th ATP title.

Lopez had more winners but the Swiss had the upper hand in other segments, hitting fewer unforced errors and forcing more mistakes from the opponent to control the pace after the opener and bring the victory home in no time at all.

Roger was in front in the shortest and mid-range exchanges, ruling the court with his serve and first groundstrokes to lave the opponent behind and add 300 points to his tally. Lopez made a perfect start, stealing Roger's serve in the very first game of the match and holding with an ace in game four to open a 3-1 gap.

The Spaniard fired a forehand winner in game six for a hold at love, fending off five break chances two games later to bring it home with a service winner, moving closer to the opener and securing it with a volley winner at 5-4 after repelling another break point.

Federer finally grabbed a break in the fourth game of the second set, landing a volley winner and gathering momentum that would keep him safe until the end of the encounter. The Swiss confirmed the break with a commanding hold, delivering another break in game five thanks to a forehand mistake from Feliciano and clinching the set with a service winner at 5-1 to become the favorite in the decider as well.

There, he stole the Spaniard's serve at 1-1 and raced into a 4-1 lead when Feliciano netted another easy volley, allowing Federer to seal the deal with a service winner in game eight and celebrate the second straight crown in the desert.