Roger Federer was 4-5 against the top-10 rivals in 2003 ahead of the Masters Cup. Roger was a player to beat in Houston, winning all three round-robin encounters and becoming the title favorite. Federer did not play at his best in Basel and Paris due to back issues, recovering for Houston and setting the title clash against Andre Agassi.
Roger faced Andre Agassi and David Nalbandian in the opening matches, seeking his first victories against those rivals. The Swiss had to work hard to topple the American veteran, fending off two match points in the deciding set tie break to prevail 6-7, 6-3, 7-6 and make a winning start.
Roger notched the first victory over David Nalbandian in the second round-robin test, beating the Argentine 6-3, 6-0 and gathering confidence ahead of the following challenges. In the last round-robin clash, Roger ousted world no.
2 Juan Carlos Ferrero 6-3, 6-1, finishing the first part of the job accurately and setting the semi-final clash with world no. 1 Andy Roddick. In his best match of the week up to that point, the Swiss bested the American 7-6, 6-2 to advance into the final and take an extra step after the semi-final loss in Shanghai a year ago.
Roger never faced a break point and tamed his strokes nicely to hit 30 winners and around ten unforced errors. Roddick could not follow that pace, trailing in the shortest and more advanced exchanges and losing ground after the opening set tie break to propel Roger into the title clash.
Thus, Federer arranged a second duel against Andre Agassi that week, expecting a tough battle.
Roger Federer defeated Andy Roddick to reach the 2003 Masters Cup final.
"This has been my best match of the week so far. I played solid tennis from start to finish.
In the previous three encounters, I had to deal with great returners. Today, a great server was on the other side of the net, and it was a completely different experience. Tomorrow should be the biggest test in the final; I'm looking forward to it.
I still have to play one big match. I have a chance to improve my ranking and become world no. 2; that's an extra motivation. Competing at the Masters Cup is a great thing; I took an extra step compared to Shanghai last year, and I have a chance to win the tournament.
Andy had to work hard in his round-robin matches while I had only one tricky clash; I preserved more energy and played on a high level today. Both Andre and I will give our best in the final. We played a few days ago, and now we have to do it again at the same tournament; I have never experienced that before.
It should be an intense battle; he will make me work. It's the last match of the season, and I will give everything to win. My record against the top-10 players wasn't that good before the Masters Cup; I have polished that up, and it's a nice feeling," Roger Federer said.
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