Roger Federer claimed the junior Wimbledon crown in 1998 and made a senior debut a year later. After a couple of early defeats, Roger made a name for himself in 2001 when he beat the seven-time champion Pete Sampras and advanced into the quarters.
Federer suffered an early exit to the young gun Mario Ancic, who stunned the Swiss in the opening round a year later. In a recent interview at the All England Club, Roger mentioned that his first real support from the crowd at Wimbledon came in 2002 against Ancic, although it did not end well for him.
An 18-year-old qualifier Ancic stunned Federer 6-3, 7-6, 6-3 in his first Major match and the second ATP tournament in a career. The defending champion Goran Ivanisevic was not in the draw, and another hard-hitting player from Split was there to replace him in style, firing one booming serve after another to keep Federer without any rhythm and outplaying the Swiss in the return department.
Ancic needed an hour and 40 minutes to take down the most prominent youngster at that moment, repelling five out of six break chances and stealing Roger's serve on three occasions to notch straight-sets triumph, his first on the ATP level!
Ancic was the youngest player to make a winning Wimbledon Centre Court debut since Bjorn Borg in distant 1973, drawing only positive vibes from the big scene and delivering a barrage of attacking strokes to leave Roger behind and celebrate the proudest moment in a career up to that point!
Roger Federer shared thoughts about his 2002 Wimbledon loss to Mario Ancic.
The Croat kicked off the encounter in the best way, breaking Federer twice in the opening set to take it 6-3 in just 29 minutes. There were no breaks in set number two, and Mario claimed the tie break 7-2 to forge a massive advantage.
The Croat sealed Federer's fate with a break in the fourth game of the third set and brought the victory home without any troubles. "I felt like the favorite at Wimbledon in the first round in 2002. In the previous year, I beat Pete Sampras and played against Tim Henman in the quarters, then people thought I was one of the favorites coming in 2002.
I was ranked, I don't know, maybe top-10, top-8 or top-6. I finished the season ranked 6th; I don't even remember. I felt like there I had the crowd support, but it was short-lived. I lost the first round to Ancic and went home," Roger Federer said.