For the past two decades, Roger Federer has been the world's most recognized male player, winning numerous titles in front of a packed crowd around the world. As a crowd favorite in almost every tournament and often against local players, Roger couldn't count on that at the Foro Italico in 2003.
Federer was the player to beat in the early months of that year, racking up numerous wins and momentum before the clay. The Swiss won the Munich title in style and stayed strong in Rome to continue his streak. In previous years, Roger did not perform well in the Italian capital, changing that and advancing to the semi-final after 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 after a late break to send the clash into a decider before Federer raised the bar on him again to seal the deal for the 11th straight win.
Roger experienced problems with the Italian partisan crowd at the Foro Italico, with some fans crossing the line and saying all sorts of things to him during the match. The youngster endured all of that to rise to the top with a reliable performance in the decider that kept him on the road to the title.
Casper Ruud opens up on Roger Federer
Casper Ruud recently revealed that he harbored hopes of defeating Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer when he was a child. The Norwegian also said the two tennis greats had served as an inspiration for him growing up.
Ruud explained that as he grew older he started to believe in his ability to beat top players. Having trained with the big names in men's tennis on a regular basis, Ruud believes they are not as invincible as many consider them to be.
"They (Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer) are more like an inspiration, but the older you get, the more you start to believe, and you get to practise with them sometimes," Ruud said. "They are obviously better than you, but maybe not as much as you would maybe think.
I was lucky enough to play Novak Djokovic and Federer once, when I went onto the court I went to try and win. You have to try and look at them as just another player you want to beat." When asked where he would prefer to settle down after retiring, Ruud revealed he would like to spend more time in Mallorca as it is "very easy to fall in love with"
"Getting to know the island of Mallorca in Spain," Ruud said. "It is very easy to fall in love with it, so that is my goal to have a nice place there after my career. I also enjoy Florida, so it is tough to pick one. Both have good weather and good golf courses, but I haven’t decided yet. But I have some years to still."