The end of September is packed with milestones from Roger Federer's early career and it is always nice to remember them as the first pages from the history book of one of the best players ever! He had made his debut in the ATP rankings on September 22, 1997, and on this day a year later he had claimed his maiden ATP victory in Toulouse at the age of 17. Roger's main goal in that season was to finish as the junior number 1, which he achieved in the end after a lot of drama, but he also found time for the first professional steps, making an ATP debut in Gstaad after winning the junior Wimbledon crown and competing at Geneva Challenger in August.
At the end of September, Roger had decided to try to qualify for the ATP event in Toulouse, despite being ranked 878th. He was a 17-year-old newcomer with no professional experience but with the game perfectly suited for the fast indoor surface, equipped with solid serve, great movement, attacking style and net rushing.
Federer had defeated Marcelo Wowk, Alex Radulescu, and Olivier Delaitre in straight sets to find himself in his second main draw on the ATP Tour. He had found a nice rhythm in those matches, winning all three tie breaks and entering the main draw well-prepared to make some more damage.
His first rival was world number 45 Guillaume Raoux and Federer had made a strong statement about his talent and abilities, defeating the Frenchman 6-2 6-2 in an hour to notch his first ATP win! It was all about the young Swiss throughout the match, losing just eight points on serve and never facing a break point to keep the pressure on his rival.
Federer had won 50% of the return points to take Raoux' serve four times from eight opportunities, controlling the scoreboard all the time for a milestone triumph. World number 43 Richard Fromberg was his opponent in the second round and Federer had claimed another victory, this time 6-1 7-6 in an hour and 25 minutes.
Federer had continued where he left in the previous encounter, taking the opening set 6-1 by storm with two breaks and prevailing in the second part of the match to advance into the quarter-final. He wasn't serving as good as against Raoux but he stayed unbroken, fending off all four break points and taking the tie break 7-5 to find himself in the last eight despite his very low ranking position and a lack of experience.
Roger's journey had come to its end in the quarter-final when world number 20 Jan Siemerink toppled him 7-6 6-2 in 79 minutes. Battling in his sixth match in less than a week, Roger had struggled with a throbbing thigh injury and he couldn't produce his best tennis, facing 10 break points and losing serve thrice.
Siemerink got broken only once, and two days later he would win the tournament, proving too strong for Roger and all other opponents he had faced. For this amazing run, Roger Federer was rewarded with an immediate bounce in the ATP rankings, making the Top 400 after gaining 482 positions in just one week! Until the end of the season, Roger had also played in the main draw of home ATP tournament in Basel, losing to great Andre Agassi in the first round and concentrating on the junior Tour in the closing weeks of the year.