Roger Federer played on a high level in the opening months of 2003, leading the Tour with the most wins and hoping for more of the same on clay. After skipping Monte Carlo due to illness, Roger claimed the seventh ATP title in Munich without losing a set.
Federer moved to Rome and hoped for his first good result at Foro Italico, not playing well in the Italian capital in the previous years. With momentum on his side, Roger advanced into the semi-final in Rome following wins over Paul-Henri Mathieu, Mariano Zabaleta, Tommy Robredo and Filippo Volandri.
The Swiss had won 17 straight sets on clay before the second one against the Italian. Volandri bounced back and claimed it 7-5 with a late break to send the clash into a decider. Federer raised his level again to seal the deal with a 6-3, 5-7, 6-2 triumph and earn the 11th straight win.
Roger had issues with the partisan Italian crowd, as some fans crossed the line and said all kinds of things to him during the match. Still, the Swiss endured all that to stay focused and seal the deal with reliable performance in the decider to remain on the title course.
Roger Federer defeated Filippo Volandri in three sets in Rome 2003.
"When you play against the Italian here, the crowd can be mean to you. Sometimes I felt they treated me unfairly, but I tried not to show anything. I heard some bad words towards me, stuff like that; it was a little bit overboard, especially when you do that 20 times.
I'm not a guy who shows many emotions, and they used that. I did not like that, but I hope the crowd will stand behind me in the next match. To make things clear, I have nothing against that; I understand they supported an Italian guy, and that's what they should do.
It's just that a couple of them did not act as they should. I'm looking forward to facing Juan Carlos Ferrero; that should be a tough battle. We both have played well and have confidence; he is more experienced on clay. Still, I will have my chances If I mix my game nicely and come to the net more than in the previous rounds," Roger Federer said.