After a great decade for American tennis during the 1990s, the most prominent tennis nation needed fresh blood to pick up where Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi and others left off. Omaha native Andy Roddick was the top pick, cracking the top 100 in April 2002 at age 18 and winning five ATP titles at home in the US in 2001 and 2002.
In 2003, Roddick won six ATP titles. and finished the season as world no.1, the last American to do so. Despite his excellent results, Andy had to wait until the end of May to claim the first title of the year at St.Poelten, adding more at Queen's and Indianapolis before embracing the best month of his life.
The American conquered the Canadian Open, Cincinnati and the US Open to become world no. 2 and take the ATP throne two months later. A week before Montreal, Roddick lost in the Washington semi-final to Tim Henman and used the next few days to rest before heading to Montreal as the sixth seed and one of the favorites for the first Masters 1000 crown.
Andy defeated Xavier Malisse, Juan Ignacio Chela, Sebastien Grosjean and Karol Kucera to set up the Roger Federer clash. He defeated the Swiss in the deciding tiebreak despite trailing 4-2 in the final set to propel himself to the second straight Canadian Open final, losing to Guillermo Canas a year ago.
Another player born in 1982 wanted to add the first Masters 1000 crown to his tally, with David Nalbandian setting up the final clash with Roddick on August 10. Twelve months earlier, Roddick defeated Nalbandian 6-3, 6-2 in the quarterfinals in Toronto and held the lead again to deliver a 6-1, 6-3 triumph in 63 minutes for the most one-sided final at this event since 1989 when Ivan Lendl defeated John McEnroe.
Andy was the dominant figure on the court, dropping 11 points in eight service games and suffering a break from two chances offered to the Argentine. On the other hand, David barely hit any winners and tallied almost 30 unforced errors to lose his rhythm.
Nalbandian comments on King Roger
David Nalbandian is one of the few players who can boast of a competitive record against Roger Federer. "Neither he towards me nor I towards him had that respect that younger players now have when they have Roger Federer or any other member of the Big3 in front of them.
When you enter the court without that excessive respect, you already have one more chance," Nalbandian said. He also suggested that his game didn't suit Federer much and helped him beat the Swiss player several times.
"Also, I think that the type of game that I had at that time he didn't like, that's why I managed to get him into a ball. That was what helped me beat him so many times," he added.