After lifting the first Wimbledon crown in 2003, Roger Federer could become world no. 1 in the following weeks. The Swiss was a victory away from the ATP throne in Montreal, denied by Andy Roddick in the semi-final and missing more chances after early losses in Cincinnati and the US Open.
Federer wrapped up the season ranked 2nd after winning the first Masters Cup title, preparing to attack the ATP throne in 2004. Traveling to Australia without Peter Lundgren in his coaching box, Federer proved to be a player to beat in the opening three rounds, using a favorable draw to reach the last 16.
Facing more dangerous opponents, Federer ousted the home star Lleyton Hewitt and David Nalbandian to find himself in his second Major semi-final and the first in Melbourne. Roger had a negative score against both rivals at that moment, losing a set but controlling the pace in the others for his best result at Melbourne Park.
Standing one triumph away from reaching the final and becoming world no. 1, Roger toppled Juan Carlos Ferrero 6-4, 6-1, 6-4 in an hour and a half, advancing into the second Major final and conquering the ATP throne at 22. Federer defended all four break chances and earned his fourth victory over Juan Carlos, who could not match Roger's numbers after suffering four breaks.
Servers marched through the opening six service games before Federer repelled four break points in his only loose service game. Roger stayed on the scoreboard's positive side and delivered a break at love in game ten to take the opener 6-4.
Roger Federer became world no. 1 after reaching the 2004 Australian Open final.
The Swiss grabbed another break in the second set's second game and repeated that at 4-1 before sealing it with a service winner that moved him closer to the finish line.
At 3-3 in the third set, Federer moved in front with the fourth and last break of serve, emerging at the top with a service winner in the tenth game to become world no. 1 for the first time and challenge Marat Safin in the title clash.
Asked about the fact that he came to Melbourne with no coach, Roger explained he is grateful to all of them for everything they had done. Still, he was the one who had to go out and compete, feeling proud about becoming the world's leading player.
"This no. 1 honor does not come like this. There has been a lot of work on the practice courts and all other places. I've been working as hard as I could the last few years. All the coaches that have helped me deserve something of it.
But, in the end, it's me on the tennis court and serving out the match, not the coach. So I'm very proud," Roger Federer said.