After consecutively reaching the quarter-finals at Roland Garros and Wimbledon before turning 20 in 2001, Roger Federer became a favorite at the Majors for years. Federer slowed down a bit on the biggest scene over the next two years, waiting two years to show his A-game again.
The Swiss captured his first major title at Wimbledon 2003, lifting the trophy at his beloved event and joining the tennis immortals. Following an early elimination at the US Open, Roger won the ATP Masters Cup and finished the year in second place behind Andy Roddick.
Traveling to Australia in January after parting ways with Peter Lundgren, Federer was a player to watch in Melbourne, taking advantage of a favorable draw to reach the fourth round in style. Things got more serious, but Roger was up to any challenge, beating Lleyton Hewitt and David Nalbandian to reach his first Australian Open semi-final.
With those points, Roger moved one win away from becoming the world number 1, and faced Juan Carlos Ferrero in a battle for the final. All in all, Federer had a solvent performance and knocked down the Spaniard 6-4, 6-1, 6-4 in an hour and a half to advance to the second final of a Major and reach No.
1 in the world. It was his seventh meeting and the fourth win for Federer, who never lost serve and mounted the pressure on the other side. Ferrero dropped serve to him four times, doing the best he could in sets one and three, but ending his run in the semi-finals.
Both players had more winners than unforced errors, and Federer controlled the pace with 30 winners and 40 forced errors from the Spaniard. Juan Carlos was the better player in the long exchanges, which was not enough to keep him safe.
Aliassime praises Roger Federer
Last year at the Halle Open, Canada's Felix Auger-Aliassime got the opportunity to fulfill his dream of playing against his childhood hero Roger Federer on grass. "He has won here ten times.
He's a legend of our sport. That was the first time that I got to play him. We had practiced a few times before. But to play him and to feel how well he was still playing and for me to be able to come up with a great performance, that was a really positive win for me and just for my confidence.
It's definitely a moment I remember well," Aliassime said. "I don't know if players are able to adapt to a surface or the surface adapts to the players. The younger players are not as established and don't have much experience on the surface.
We only play three to four tournaments a year. It's difficult for young players to break through on the big stages on this surface or at Wimbledon, for example. I think it's not easy for us but hopefully, we can gain experience rapidly and challenge the best players to win those tournaments," said Aliassime.