Roger Federer made a breakthrough Wimbledon run in 2001. The young Swiss beat the seven-time champion, Pete Sampras, in the fourth round before falling in the quarters to Tim Henman in four tight sets. Twelve months later, Roger returned to the All England Club as a top-10 player and one of the favorites, hoping to go even further than in 2001.
Nonetheless, Wimbledon 2003 was short and unsuccessful for Federer, as an 18-year-old Mario Ancic stunned him 6-3, 7-6, 6-3 on June 25. In his first Major match (he was the runner-up at the junior event two years before), the Croat ranked 154th qualified for the main draw as one of the youngest players in the field, entering only his second ATP event after Miami three months earlier.
The defending champion Goran Ivanisevic was not in the draw, and Mario had stood as a perfect replacement for him since they both come from Split.
Roger Federer fell to Mario Ancic at Wimbledon 2002.
Ancic fired one booming serve after another to keep Federer without any rhythm, with his return working better than Roger's.
The younger player needed an hour and 40 minutes to take down the most prominent upcoming star at that moment. He repelled five out of six break points and stole Roger's serve on three occasions to notch a straight-sets triumph, his first on the ATP level!
Ancic became the youngest player with a winning Centre Court debut since Bjorn Borg in 1973, drawing only the positive vibes from the big scene and delivering a barrage of aggressive strokes to leave Roger behind. The Croat kicked off the encounter in the best possible way, breaking Federer twice in the opening set to take it 6-3 in swift 29 minutes.
There were no breaks in the second set, and Mario clinched the tie break 7-2 to forge a massive advantage. The Croat played better when it mattered the most and was now the favorite. Ancic sealed Federer's fate with a break in the third set's fourth game and brought the match home without any troubles or loose moments that would have been expected from an inexperienced teenager.
Ancic outplayed Federer in all departments that day, serving better, covering the net superbly and doing more damage with his groundstrokes. After the match, Roger admitted he underestimated Mario, knowing nothing about him or what to expect.
On the other hand, Mario received tips from Goran Ivanisevic before the clash, while Goran's father, Srdjan, watched him from the box.