For the last two decades, Roger Federer has been the world's most recognized male player, conquering numerous titles in front of the packed crowd worldwide. Standing as the crowd favorite at almost every tournament and often against the home players, Roger could not count on that at Foro Italico in 2003.
Federer was the player to beat in early months that year, gathering numerous victories and a boost ahead of clay. The Swiss won the Munich title in style and stood strong in Rome to continue his streak. In the previous years, Roger did not have good results in the Italian capital, changing that and advancing into the semi-final following victories over Paul-Henri Mathieu, Mariano Zabaleta, Tommy Robredo and Filippo Volandri.
Roger had won 17 straight sets before losing the second against the Italian. Volandri won it 7-5 following a late break to send the clash into a decider before Federer raised his level again to seal the deal and earn the 11th straight victory.
Roger experienced troubles with the partisan Italian crowd at Foro Italico, with some fans crossing the line and telling all kinds of things to him during the encounter. The youngster endured all that to move over the top with reliable performance in the decider that kept him on the title course.
Roger Federer reached the final in Rome 2003 after having problems with crowd.
"When you play against the Italian here in Rome, the crowd can be mean to you. Sometimes I felt they mistreated me, but I tried not to show anything.
I heard some bad words and stuff like that; it was a bit overboard, especially when you do that 20 times. I'm not a guy who shows a lot of emotions, and they used that. I wouldn't say I liked that, but I hope the crowd will stand behind me in the next match.
To make things clear, I have nothing against that; I understand they supported an Italian guy, and that's what they should do. It's just that a couple of them did not act as they should. I'm looking forward to facing Juan Carlos Ferrero; that should be a tough battle," Roger Federer said.