October 13, 2002: Roger Federer tops Jiri Novak to conquer Vienna

Tennis - This was the fourth title of the season for the young Swiss and his fourth overall

by Jovica Ilic
October 13, 2002: Roger Federer tops Jiri Novak to conquer Vienna

After his breakthrough run at Wimbledon 2001, Roger Federer had continued his charge in 2002 with his first Masters 1000 crown in Hamburg and three titles overall. Despite failing to reach a Grand Slam quarter-final, Roger did enough to finish the year as the world number 6 and to qualify for his first Masters Cup where he lost in three sets against Lleyton Hewitt in the semi-final.

Roger's third and last title of the season came in Vienna on October 13 when he toppled Jiri Novak in the final in four sets. The youngster had a busy schedule that season, playing a lot of tournaments and matches and traveling to Vienna from Moscow where he lost in the quarter-final to Marat Safin in straight sets.

Roger loved to play in Austria and this was his fourth straight appearance in the capital city, going all the way to lift his fourth career title. Federer made a strong start against Zeljko Krajan and he had to work harder versus Tommy Robredo in round two, scoring a 6-2 6-7 6-4 win in just under two hours to enter the last eight.

Roger lost just nine points on serve against Bohdan Ulihrach in a commanding 6-3 6-3 win and he stood strong against Carlos Moya in the semis as well, claiming a 6-2 6-3 triumph in just over an hour for the place in the title match against world number 12 Jiri Novak.

After two hours and nine minutes, Federer prevailed 6-4 6-1 3-6 6-4 for his first indoor hard title, saving seven out of 10 break points and stealing rival's serve six times from 12 opportunities he created to secure the crown in four sets.

Novak managed to force a lot of errors from the Swiss but Roger dominated with his serve and forehand to score more than 50 winners, playing better in the crucial moments to wrap up the match and claim the title. Federer had the advantage in the shortest and longest rallies and he kicked off the match in a stronger fashion for an early lead.

He broke Novak in the sixth game after a solid forehand attack and he fired a forehand winner in the following game to open up a 5-2 lead. The Czech fends off two set points in game eight and he broke back in the next game with a forehand winner, reducing the deficit to 5-4.

He wasted a game point and Roger found the way to score a break after a poor forehand from Jiri, taking the opener 6-4 and building the momentum before the rest of the match. Still, Novak was there to fight and he converted the sixth break point at the start of the second set, moving ahead with a smash winner but losing the advantage in the very next game when his backhand landed long.

Federer landed a forehand down the line winner in the fourth game for another break of serve and a 3-1 lead, saving a break point with an ace in the game that followed to increase his advantage. It was all about the Swiss in those moments and he scored another break in game six with a forehand down the line winner, closing the set with a solid hold in the next game for two sets to love lead after just 69 minutes.

Novak raised his level in the third set, serving well and breaking Roger at 4-3 to clinch the set on own serve in the next game when Federer netted an easy backhand, taking the set 6-3 and extending his chances for a turnaround.

Federer kept his focus in set number four, dropping just five points on serve and earning a break in the 10th game after a lucky net cord winner to grab the set 6-4 and lift his fourth ATP title, continuing his charge through the rankings and returning into the Top 10 where he would stay for the next 14 years! ALSO READ: ATP Shanghai: Roger Federer ousts Kei Nishikori to reach the semis

Roger Federer