Kicking off the season ranked 6th, Roger Federer was eager to chase high goals in 2003, especially at Majors. The young Swiss won Marseille and Dubai, played well on clay and saved his best tennis for the fastest surface. Following the first ATP title on grass in Halle, Roger went on to lift the first Major crown at Wimbledon, losing one set in seven encounters and becoming the ATP throne contender in a balanced field.
The Swiss had the opportunity to become world no. 1 in Montreal, Cincinnati and the US Open. Still, he suffered defeats to Andy Roddick and David Nalbandian, hoping for a better run during the indoor swing. In October, Federer won the tenth ATP title in Vienna, advanced into the Madrid semi-final a week later and saught more deep runs in Basel and Paris.
Dealing with back problems, Roger experienced early exits at both events and ruined his chances of finishing the season at the top ahead of Andy Roddick and Juan Carlos Ferrero. With slim possibilities, Federer made a winning start at the ATP Masters Cup in Houston, fending off two match points in a tight 6-7, 6-3, 7-6 triumph over Andre Agassi.
The encounter lasted for two hours and 25 minutes, and Roger had to dig deep to oust the veteran, coming from a set down and wasting a massive lead in the decider that could have cost him dearly.
Roger Federer made a winning start at the Masters Cup 2003.
In set number two, the Swiss regained his strokes and forced a 5-3 advantage in the decider.
Gathering boost from the home crowd, Agassi pulled the break back in the last moment following Roger's double fault to level the score at 5-5 and set the tie break. A forehand winner gave Agassi the first match point at 5-5, denied by a service winner from Roger, who sprayed a forehand mistake to offer a second chance to the American.
He saved it with a perfect forehand down the line winner in the 14th point, took another point on the return and sealed the deal with a forehand crosscourt winner for a winning start ahead of David Nalbandian clash. Asked about the year-end no.
1 situation, Federer admitted he was not in a good position, trying to give his best and focusing on the encounters instead of ranking charts. "I was not thinking about the year-end no. 1 spot during the match. That's not in my power, and I do not know what needs to happen for me to get there.
I think Roddick has to lose all matches, a possible scenario in a strong group, but my chances are slim," Roger Federer said.