Roger Federer was the man on a mission at Wimbledon 2003. The Swiss claimed his first ATP grass-court title in Halle a few weeks earlier and remained the highest seeded in his part of the draw at the All England Club when Lleyton Hewitt experienced an early exit.
. Federer beat his first three opponents in five hours, dropping just one set and gaining momentum for the second week, which saw a huge scare on the practice court for the youngster. Hurting his back before the clash with Feliciano Lopez, Roger barely survived the opener before starting to play better on painkillers, sealing the deal in straight sets and defeating the injured Sjeng Schalken to find himself in the Majors semi-finals for the first time.
Federer met Andy Roddick there and produced a wonderful 7-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory in one hour and 43 minutes to advance to the title clash. Feeling much better, Federer claimed a tight opening set and sailed to the finish line after that, dominating Roddick's serve well and advancing towards the final.
Andy gave his best in the first set, saving a break opportunity and forging a 6-5 lead in the tiebreaker, only to blow a set point after a loose forehand that sent him off the court in sets two and three. Federer stood his ground in his games, rejecting the two break opportunities offered to the American at the start of the second set and winning three breaks to seal the deal in straight sets and take another big step towards the first Grand Slam title.
Panatta talks about Roger Federer
Former French Open champion Adriano Panatta penned a heartfelt letter to Roger Federer on the Swiss' 40th birthday. "Dear Roger, first of all best wishes for your 40th birthday," wrote Adriano Panatta.
"I don't remember exactly when I saw you play the first time, but I have well in mind the impression you gave me: you were little more than a kid, but you had something different than the others. Many ask me if there will be players similar to Federer in the future.
I do not believe it," the Italian continued. "Also because the prototype of the modern player is different. Roger has to stop when he feels like it, without letting himself be influenced. Federer will remain forever, the one who plays like no other."
Over the years, visiting various cities and blending with various cultures can take a toll on players. Interacting with the media and fans while constantly changing hotels can get strenuous at times. In the end, mental fatigue can make an appearance and if a player can manage that, they can do wonders. The Swiss ace has done this well.