Roger Federer recalls: 'I'm without a coach, and I like hitting with juniors'

Tennis - Federer reached the Australian Open semi-final in 2004

by Jovica Ilic
Roger Federer recalls: 'I'm without a coach, and I like hitting with juniors'

After a perfect closure of the 2003 season, Roger Federer kicked off the next one without a coach, parting ways with Peter Lundgren. Heading to Melbourne in January 2004, Roger wanted to show his abilities and notch the first notable result down under, losing to David Nalbandian in a thriller a year ago.

The Swiss passed three rivals from outside the top-100 to set the clash against the home star Lleyton Hewitt. Having a negative 2-9 score against the Aussie, Roger made sure to improve that, beating Lleyton 4-6, 6-3, 6-0, 6-4 in two hours and 18 minutes for the first quarter-final in Melbourne.

Federer faced another player against whom he had a poor record, David Nalbandian. Suffering two Major defeats against the Argentine in 2003 at the Australian Open and the US Open, Roger was eager to avoid another one. He claimed a 7-5, 6-4, 5-7, 6-3 victory in two hours and 41 minutes for the second semi-final at Majors after Wimbledon last year.

Roger Federer defeated David Nalbandian to reach the semis in Melbourne in 2004.

Federer won six points more than David, fired 20 aces and defended eight out of 11 break chances, challenging the rival to repeat those numbers.

The Argentine gave his best to stay in touch, but he suffered five breaks from Roger's 12 opportunities and lost focus in the pivotal moments to push the rival through. Federer erased a break chance at 5-5 in the first set with a booming serve, gathered a boost and broke Nalbandian a few minutes later for 7-5.

David led 2-0 and 4-3 in set number two before dropping three straight games and allowing Roger to steal it and open a massive lead. Losing ground in the closing stages of the opening two sets, Nalbandian fixed that in the third, taking Federer's serve at 5-5 and closing it with a smash winner for 7-5 and momentum.

Roger started all over and raced into a 3-0 advantage in set number four. He sealed the deal with a service winner in game nine for the first semi-final in Melbourne, setting the clash against Juan Carlos Ferrero. "It should be a similar experience against Juan Carlos Ferrero, with a lot of running and smart shots to take the point.

In the last few days, I have been hitting with juniors; I do not have a coach, and I like to play juniors. Tomorrow, I will train with the Swiss junior. I know him, and it should be fun. It should be tough against Juan Carlos Ferrero; I have to play against three top-tier rivals, just like at the Masters Cup," Roger Federer said.

Roger Federer Australian Open