Roger Federer claimed his first Major title at Wimbledon 2003, just before his 22nd birthday. The Swiss was among the favorites, and he defeated seven opponents in style to claim the most notable title of his young career. Still, the Swiss could have missed the title chase after a nasty back injury experienced before the fourth-round match against Feliciano Lopez.
The youngster entered the court and hoped for a miracle, surviving the pain somehow and sealing the deal in straight sets to avoid the exit and advance into the last eight. Gaining a massive boost in Halle after the first ATP title on grass, Federer was one of the players to beat at Wimbledon 2003.
The Swiss reached the quarter-final at the All England Club two years ago and felt eager to leave that short 2002 campaign behind and get back on the winning way. When Ivo Karlovic stunned the defending champion Lleyton Hewitt on an opening day, Roger remained the highest seed in that part of the draw.
He played well in the first couple of rounds and earned a place in the second week for the second time in three years. In the opening encounter, Federer stormed over Hyung-Taik Lee before ousting Stefan Koubek in the second match and toppling Mardy Fish in two hours to enter the second week.
His next rival was Feliciano Lopez, and Federer won that one 7-6, 6-4, 6-4 for a place in the last eight, experiencing a scare on the practice court and still winning in straight sets.
Roger Federer experienced a back injury ahead of the Lopez clash at Wimbledon 2003.
Roger felt a sharp pain in his back during routine practice and called a trainer, hoping for wonder after never experiencing anything similar in a career.
Barely moving, Federer trailed in the opening set, and things could have been over for him had Lopez converted any of three set points in the tenth game. The Spaniard wasted those and allowed the Swiss to bounce back and somehow win the set in the tie break.
With his body getting warmer, Federer maintained a high level in sets two and three to seal the deal, hoping to recover for the upcoming encounter against Sjeng Schalken. "The injury occurred in the warm-up, and I can't explain what happened.
I couldn't move and had to call a trainer and hope for a wonder. It was very tough for me, and I don't know how I won, as it never happened before. It bothered me while serving, and my back was blocked entirely; I was always under a lot of pain.
It got a little better as the match went on because the body gets warm, and you get into it, trying to forget about the problems. I did not think I would sit here as a winner after this shock I had today. I have to take this lucky match and get rid of the pain ahead of the quarters.
I have a great opportunity and will try to use it. I'm a bit exhausted after everything, but I hope to recover in time for the next encounter," Roger Federer said.