Starting the season from the 30th position on the ATP list, the young Swiss Roger Federer was ready to chase big goals and seek the place in the top-10. Roger claimed the first ATP title in Milan in February and delivered three wins over the USA in the Davis Cup, finishing the month with the semi-final in Marseille and the final in Rotterdam, moving closer to the top-20 group and adding more points to his tally following the quarter-final run in Miami.
Unable to find his A-game on clay in the previous years, Federer reached the quarter-final in Monte Carlo and Roland Garros, his first at Majors that gave him boost ahead of grass swing that saw him scoring five wins in Halle and s-Hertogenbosch before making the second round at Wimbledon where he toppled the seven-time champion Pete Sampras in that memorable fourth round.
In the quarters, Federer lost to Tim Henman, struggling with a groin injury and playing only one match ahead of the US Open where he reached the fourth round. Seeking big points in the last couple of tournaments, Federer suffered a 7-6, 3-6, 6-2 defeat to Wayne Ferreira in the second round in Stuttgart, losing ground to the players ahead of him and almost squandering every chance to find himself at the Masters Cup in Sydney at the end of the season.
Wayne faced only two break points in the entire encounter, getting broken once in the second set before finding his best tennis again to dominate in the decider and leave shaky Roger behind. After the match, the Swiss said he lacks more time on the court after that groin injury, playing with low confidence in the last couple of months and not finding the rhythm in the crucial moments.
"From now on, I can probably stop talking about Sydney and the Masters Cup. If I'm playing that bad or can't pass the first round, why should I talk about Sydney? At the moment, I'm not playing well to get there and will just give my best in the next couple of events and see what happens.
Mentally, I don't feel very good at the moment, still fighting back from an injury that bothers me a little. Despite reaching the quarter-final in Vienna, I didn't feel I had the same level as before. When it gets tight, I'm not playing well.
Since Wimbledon, I played some six or seven matches; that's not a lot and I certainly needed more to find the rhythm again as I'm that type of guy. Everybody is talking about Sydney all the time; I try not to think about it when I'm on the court.
At the moment, I'm worried about my game because I feel I'm not serving well, I'm losing ground from the baseline and missing too many chances in the crucial moments. Things have been mostly negative recently."