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. After 2003 that he first lived as a protagonist, Federer started 2004 with a new awareness, both of his talent and his possibilities. He started the year by winning the Australian Open against Marat Safin, becoming world No.
1 for the first time in his career, then winning in Dubai, Indian Wells and Hamburg. At the French Open, he was eliminated in the third round by Gustavo Kuerten, but on grass, he won in Halle and at Wimbledon (his third major against Andy Roddick).
His year continued unabashedly, with titles in Gstaad, Rogers Cup, US Open (fourth Slam, won against Lleyton Hewitt), Bangkok and the ATP Finals. In that season, however, another turning point occurred: Roger Federer challenged the young Rafael Nadal for the first time, at the Miami Open, losing in two sets.
That was the first cross of a historical rivalry. “After I became number one in 2004, I thought about quitting this game. I had achieved all the goals I had set myself. What sparked me to continue was the fact that I had nothing more to prove to anyone: everyone was already aware of my worth," said Roger in an interview in 2017.
From the end of August 2004 to August 2006, for a period of two years, Federer reached the quarterfinals in all 29 tournaments played. In between, a record of 81 wins and 4 losses in 2005. In these two years, he has won 21 titles including 5 Slams.
Who interrupted this magical moment? A young Briton, Andy Murray, who defeated the Swiss Maestro in the second round of Cincinnati 2006. Yet the 2004-2007 four-year period gave Federer a total of 41 titles, including 11 Slams (3 Australian Open, 4 Wimbledon and 4 US Open).
Meanwhile, his rivalry with Rafael Nadal was growing: two players with two styles of play at the antipodes, such as ice and fire. From 2004 to 2007 they competed 14 times: Federer won 6 times (including the finals at Wimbledon 2006 and 2007), Nadal 8 (among which the finals at the French Open 2006 and 2007).
Over the years their sporting rivalry grew together with their friendship: two different and opposite tennis players, but always loyal to each other, like two true rivals and friends. And that was only the beginning.