Roger Federer from start to today. In this new column, we will explore the Swiss Maestro's career, focusing our analysis in several stages not only on his victories and his records, but also on anecdotes, events that happened behind the scenes, and curiosities.
In short, the genesis of a champion. In the previous article, we left with Roger getting ready to approach tennis as a professional player, after playing an excellent junior career. Not yet 17 years old, he started playing on the ATP Tour: his first match was in Gstaad, losing to Lucas Arnold Ker 6-4, 6-4.
He got his first career victory at the Toulouse tournament against Frenchman Guillaume Raoux winning 6-2 6-2. In 2000, Federer played the final at the Marseille Open 13 and at the Davidoff Swiss Indoors, in Basel. He was fourth in the Sydney Olympics, ending the year ranked 29th in the ATP singles ranking.
It was only the prelude: the first title came from Italy, at the Milan Indoors in 2001, where he won in the final against Julien Boutter. Meanwhile, before winning his first title, Roger met Miroslava Mirka Vavrinec: a meeting that marked his private life in an extremely positive way.
In 2001, he also reached the quarterfinals at the French Open and Wimbledon. At the All England Club, he defeated Pete Sampras in five sets. That was the only confrontation between them, like a passing of the baton. Many insiders considered Federer as only a serve-and-volleyer, as well as a tennis player with a still not completely stable behavior.
A tragedy was perhaps the watershed of his career. In 2002, his coach and mentor Peter Carter died accidentally in a car accident, and this was a tragic event for the Swiss and for sport. Perhaps that was one of the experiences that helped him transform pain into training, sweat and discipline.
Federer changed his mentality towards the approach to training, disciplines, hard work (work is talent), significantly improving his performance and his behavior. He was perhaps unique in the whole history of tennis in this.
During that season Federer won three titles, in Sydney, Hamburg and Vienna, leaving the US Open prematurely, perhaps precisely because of the pain of losing his coach. But he also disappointed at the 2002 Championships, being eliminated by Mario Ancic in the first round: "People were talking about it and I was really afraid of losing my talent.
Fortunately, my family and Mirka had great faith in me. When I met Mirka I had not won any title. She was by my side all the way. When I kissed her the first time I was 18 years old and she was 21 years old. She told me I was too young!" said Roger Federer in an interview a few years ago, but the following year he won his first Wimbledon.