Roger Federer won his first Wimbledon crown in 2003 and began a stellar journey to the ATP throne, becoming No. 1 after lifting the second Major trophy in Melbourne in early 2004. Those were the times when the gap between the top players and the rest of the circuit was still not that great, and Roger made a name for himself and showed why he would rule the tennis world for the next four years.
After Melbourne, the Swiss won titles in Dubai, Indian Wells and Hamburg to distance himself from the chasing group, suffering the only setback at Roland Garros where former champion Gustavo Kuerten stopped him in the third round.
It was grass time, and Roger was back in his prime, defending titles at Halle and Wimbledon as he quickly transitioned from grass to clay to conquer the event at home in Gstaad. After a well-deserved rest, Federer returned to the court in Toronto, winning the fourth Masters 1000 crown thanks to a 7-5, 6-3 win over No.
2 Andy Roddick. Thus, the Swiss star became the first player since Bjorn Borg in 1979 with three ATP titles in a row on three different surfaces (the Swede followed a similar path, taking Wimbledon, Bastad and Toronto)! Federer was in the office in Cincinnati two days after winning his first title in Canada, facing Dominik Hrbaty in the first round (the top seeds didn't get a Bye in the first round back then).
The Slovak surprised the best player in the world 1-6, 7-6, 6-4 in one hour and 50 minutes and broke Roger's streak of 23 consecutive victories! It was the best streak of Federer's career at the time, and the loss was a huge surprise considering his form and how he won the first set.
Thanks to that first half, Roger won 11 more points than Hrbaty, but not the crucial ones, especially in set number two. The Swiss had ten break opportunities, but converted only two in the first set, as Dominik did a great job defending himself against everyone else.
The Slovakian stayed in touch until that crucial break in the ninth game of the deciding match helped him advance.
Federer's knee injury was serious
Prakash Amitraj recently gave his thoughts on the withdrawals of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal from the rest of the 2021 season.
Drawing parallels between the two players' respective injury layoffs, Amritraj claimed that Nadal's recovery to full fitness would likely be easier than Federer's. "I don't think so. I think Roger has a few more years on Rafa and it's a little bit more serious injury," Amritraj said.
"Roger's been battling with this for some time now, and it's the knee, and a surgery. A little bit of a different scenario." The Indian also referred to Nadal's withdrawal statement, where he expressed hope of recovering fully by next year.
"Rafa, it's the foot," Amritraj said. "I saw him up close in DC, it was bothering him there. He still fought really hard, very impressive as he always is. I think it was a more managable injury. Listen, Rafa's made it very clear, he put out a statement saying I'm going to do whatever it takes to get myself in a position to compete for what motivates me the most," Amitraj added.