In an interview to Brandon Adams, the former world No. 3 James Blake recalled the first time he played against Roger Federer back in 2003 US Open. The Swiss was coming from his maiden Grand Slam title at Wimbledon. Blake said: "I felt like I was playing well, it's the night match, I love those night matches.
He wasn't the Fed we know now, multiple Grand Slam, greatest of all time possibly so I felt i had a chance, that he would have maybe made more errors. But he played so well. I did not feel like I made too much wrong. I was just amazed like, This guy is so good cuz I felt like the way I was playing I could beat most guys on the Tour or I could at least be in it taking the five steps, be close and that day he just had another gear.
And then I was shocked that he goes out in the next round or two rounds later. He loses to David Nalbandian, an unbelievable talent but the way Roger played that match against him I was like, This guy, he is playing better in my opinion in 2003 than when I lost to Lleyton Hewitt in 2001 and he ended up winning well.
Nalbandian had a great record against him. I thought it was a tough match because he came up in my drawers way too often and he was the one guy, Roger, who I struggled the most to play against. His forehand seemed to be just as good. He played a little bit better."