After two incredible seasons in 2004 and 2005 that pushed him above all the other players on the Tour, Roger Federer raised his level even more in 2006. The Swiss scored 92 wins from 97 matches and lifted 12 titles to leave Rafael Nadal and all the others behind.
Nadal and Andy Murray were the only players who defeated Roger that year, but that could have changed on October 6 when the Swiss faced world no. 1078 Takao Suzuki in the Tokyo Open quarter-final. The 30-year-old Japanese had not played since Seoul Challenger in October last year.
He made the best possible return in front of the home fans and defeated Simon Greul and Paradorn Srichapan to reach the first ATP quarter-final since Tokyo 2001! Takao successfully delivered his best tennis on the home ground and pushed world no.
3 Lleyton Hewitt to the limits in 2004. Two years later, he fought even harder against Roger, giving his everything before experiencing a 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 loss in two hours and four minutes!
In Tokyo 2006, Roger Federer had to work hard against a rival from outside top-1000.
Federer claimed 13 points more than the opponent, although that was not enough to push him over the top earlier.
Both players earned a break in the opening two sets and pushed each other to the limits in the decider. Takao was ready to give his 120% against the mighty rival at Tokyo's Ariake Colosseum. He broke Roger in the third game and closed the opening set with a hold at 5-4, dominating with his serve and slice backhand to move closer to a career-best victory.
With no room for errors, Roger grabbed a break at 5-5 in the second set and clinched it with a hold in the next one, hoping for a more relaxed decider. Instead, Suzuki pushed world no. 1 to the limits to reach a tie break and move closer to a career-best victory.
Nonetheless, Federer claimed the breaker 7-3 to emerge at the top and remain on the title course. "There's always the fear of losing when you are a set down. It's a normal feeling, but you try to think of ways of getting back in front.
It was a close match for both players, and we were both holding serve comfortably. Suzuki is out of the top-1000, but that's not his true position. I could see the headlines: Federer loses to a guy out of the top-1000, and that's not much fun.
The victory saved my image. His serve is incredible for a little guy, and his movement made it hard for me. He mixed his serve up very well, and I might not be happy about not making many returns. I had to dig deep to break him," Roger Federer said.