Roger Federer recalls: 'Rafael Nadal does not scare me'

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Roger Federer recalls: 'Rafael Nadal does not scare me'

Roger Federer arrived in Houston for the ATP Master Cup 2003 eager to raise his level from the last couple of tournaments. After winning the Vienna title, Roger did not play well in Madrid despite reaching the semi-final. He suffered early losses in Basel and Paris and wanted to fix that in the season's last event.

Federer faced the local favorite Andre Agassi in the first encounter, digging deep to oust the veteran 6-7, 6-3, 7-6. After the first set, Roger settled into a nice rhythm to find himself 5-3 up in the decider. Andre bounced back with a late break to extend the clash, reached the tie break and earned two match points.

Federer kept his coolness to repelled those and sealed the breaker 9-7 to notch the first triumph over the American. Playing against another rival he had never defeated before, Federer produced top-class tennis to topple David Nalbandian 6-3, 6-0.

The Swiss did everything right on the court, controlling the pace on serve and return to oust the Argentine for the first time in six encounters. In the last round-robin clash, Roger took down world no. 2 Juan Carlos Ferrero 6-3, 6-1 to reach the semis in style and avenge the Madrid loss.

Federer saved all three break points and delivered four breaks of serve to have the upper hand. The Swiss had 23 winners and 12 unforced errors, taming his strokes nicely and mastering the Spaniard in the more advanced exchanges.

Roger Federer spoke about Rafael Nadal at the 2003 Masters Cup.

Roger was off to a strong start, securing a break at 15 in the second game and overcoming a slight scare in the third to forge a 3-0 lead. They both served well by the end of the set, and Federer claimed it 6-3, preparing another attack in the second.

There, he grabbed a break in the third game after a double fault from Juan Carlos and securing another at 3-1. The Swiss moved over the top on the third match point in the seventh game to advance into the semis with three victories.

Asked about the upcoming stars, Roger said he was not afraid of Rafael Nadal and Richard Gasquet, citing his experience in comparison to them. At 17, Nadal and Gasquet were the youngest top-100 players at the end of the season, with the Spaniard making significant steps towards the top, including a win over Roger in March 2004 in Miami.

"For a couple of years, the young players have emerged and moved closer to the top. Sampras has retired, and we all have to prove ourselves. Also, we are not that young; we are all 22 or 23. There are younger prospects than us, like Rafael Nadal and Richard Gasquet.

I'm not afraid of them as I have more experience; I have been on the Tour for five or six years," Roger Federer said.