Roger Federer arrived in Houston for the 2003 ATP Master Cup wanting to raise his level from recent 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 last event of the season.
Federer faced local favorite Andre Agassi in the first meeting, and struggled to outclass the veteran 6-7 6-3 7-6. After the first set, Roger settled into a good rhythm and went on to lead 5-3 in the decider. Andre bounced back with a late break to lengthen the clash, reaching the tie break and earning two match points.
Federer kept his cool to repel them and seal the break 9-7 to earn the first win over the American. Playing another opponent he had never beaten before, Federer displayed world-class tennis to defeat David Nalbandian 6-3 6-0.
The Swiss did everything right on court, controlling the pace on serve and return to defeat the Argentine for the first time in six meetings. In the last round of 16 duel, Roger ousted world number 2 Juan Carlos Ferrero 6-3 6-1 to reach the semi-finals in style and avenge Madrid's loss.
Federer saved all three break points and delivered four breaks of serve to take the lead. The Swiss had 23 winners and 12 unforced errors, dominating his strokes and dominating the Spaniard in more advanced exchanges. Roger started strong, securing a break at the 15th in the second game and overcoming a minor scare in the third to carve out a 3-0 lead.
Clarey talks about King Roger
Roger Federer's future in the sport has been a topic of conversation for a long time now as the Swiss superstar continues to be sidelined with injuries. "Roger is an optimist, has positive energy, young children.
He certainly has two goals: first, get his knee fixed so that he can later have a normal life with his children. That's a big motivator," Clarey said. He feels the Swiss is used to retirement talks as those questions have been doing the rounds for a long time.
"And secondly… well, people have been asking Roger since 2009 when he won the French Open when he was going to retire. He's immune to it. His role models are people like Laver, Rosewall or Agassi. I don't think he likes coming back just for the Laver Cup.
Maybe it will, but I don't think that's what he wants," he said. "At the end of the day, he's someone who enjoys playing tennis, who enjoys feeling the ball on the racquet. And he loves competition."