When Roger Federer conquered his fifth ATP title in Marseille

Roger Federer went all the way in Marseille in February 2003

by Jovica Ilic
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When Roger Federer conquered his fifth ATP title in Marseille

Roger Federer secured his first ATP title in Milan in February 2001. The Swiss celebrated his fifth ATP crown at another indoor event two years later, winning Marseille 2003. Federer lost to David Nalbandian at the Australian Open a couple of weeks earlier and embraced European indoor swing.

Roger claimed two singles wins against the Netherlands in the Davis Cup and entered Marseille for the fourth and last time. Federer stood above all the rivals to earn his fifth ATP title, three years after reaching the final there for the first time.

Roger kicked off the campaign in under an hour when Ivan Ljubicic withdrew after the opening set tie break. The Swiss defeated Jarkko Nieminen 6-3, 6-3 in swift 67 minutes to enter the quarter-final. Roger saved ten out of 11 break points and kept the pressure on the other side.

The Swiss experienced a stern challenge in the last eight, beating Raemon Sluiter 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 in an hour and 48 minutes. Federer erased 11 out of 13 break points, getting broke twice but stealing Sluiter's serve three times to emerge at the top and enter the last four.

Roger ousted Karol Kucera 7-6, 6-3 in an hour and 26 minutes, serving well and breaking the Slovak's serve twice in the second set to advance into his 11th ATP final. On February 16, Federer defeated Jonas Bjorkman 6-2, 7-6 in an hour and 24 minutes to lift his fifth ATP trophy and crack the top-5 for the second time in a career.

It was their second clash and the second triumph for the Swiss. Roger dominated with his first serve and faced only two break points. He lost serve once and kept the pressure on the Swede constantly. Bjorkman had a slight advantage in the shortest points up to four strokes.

However, that could not give him at least a set after Roger destroyed him in the mid-range exchanges from five to eight strokes. Hitting more winners and forcing more errors, Federer created ten break opportunities and converted three to wrap up the victory in straight sets.

The Swiss made the best start and sealed the deal in the second set's tie break after a comeback. Roger scored an instant break for a perfect start of the encounter. He prevailed in a more prolonged rally and cemented the break with four winners in game two.

The Swede repelled two break chances in game three to get his name on the scoreboard. However, Roger broke him again at 3-1 on his fifth break point and increased the advantage to 5-1 with a service winner a few minutes later.

Three good serves in the eighth game clinched the opener for Federer, who looked good to seal the deal in straight sets. Still, the Swiss finally faced break points at the start of the second set following the Swede's forehand return winner.

Bjorkman failed to convert the first, but the next one got the job done for him after Federer's weak backhand slice. Jonas moved 3-0 up and was 30-0 up on the return in game four before Roger claimed four straight points to stay within one break deficit.

That proved even more critical when Federer broke back in game five to get back to the positive side. The Swiss held at 15 to level the score at 3-3, and they send the set into a tie break after six relaxed holds. Roger opened it with three winners for a 3-1 lead and earned two match points with a beautiful volley winner.

Bjorkman made one last push to save them both before Federer set the third with a backhand down the line winner. That proved the lucky one, celebrating the title when Jonas netted an easy forehand and starting a stellar journey that would bring him much more for the rest of the year.

Roger Federer
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