Recognized as one of the most important prospects among the new generation of players born in the early 1980s, Roger Federer became the player to watch in 2001. In February, the Swiss youngster captured the first ATP title in Milan before reaching the quarterfinals at back-to-back Majors in Paris and London, still at 19.
After that incredible five-set victory over Pete Sampras at the All England Club, the entire tennis world was ready to witness a new major champion from Switzerland. However, they had to wait a couple of years before Roger gathered everything to join the immortals.
Federer claimed the first Masters 1000 title in Hamburg in May 2002 and cracked the top 10 in the following days with those points on his account. Rather than use that momentum at Roland Garros and Wimbledon, Roger experienced first-round loss at both Majors to pack a massive punch.
The Swiss did not play well in the following months due to lack of form and personal problems, struggling on the court but earning enough points to secure his first place in the Masters Cup. Coming back stronger in 2003, Federer claimed the most Tour wins in the first few months and lifted crowns in Marseille, Dubai and Munich in three different settings.
The Swiss expected more of the same just a week after Bavaria's triumph in Rome. In the second round at the Foro Italico, the Swiss defeated Mariano Zabaleta in straight sets to extend the winning streak, looking good on the court and expressing his desire to win Majors and become number one in the world for years to come.
Barker comments on Federer
Sue Barker, a former tennis player, and televisionhost,t joined a long list of well-known people in paying tribute to tennis legend Roger Federer following his retirement. "We have had many many interviews over the years and he is always so giving, isn't he? In interviews, you sit down with him, he is such a pro, you ask him one question and off he goes.
He is just the most amazing person to interview and he gives so much back to the fans because he knows the interview will go around and he just wants to keep giving back," Sue Barker said. "He is such an amazing role model, both on and off the court.
So, haven't we been lucky and privileged to be watching not only him but these amazing years of tennis with these great champions. It's been a joy to watch," she added further.