In 2001 and 2002, Roger Federer had established himself as one of the players to beat on the ATP Tour, improving his game on every surface and scoring the first notable results at Majors and the Masters 1000 series. In 2001, Federer was the quarter-finalist at Roland Garros and Wimbledon, making his first significant steps at the All England Club following that thrilling 7-6, 5-7, 6-5, 6-7, 7-5 triumph over the seven-time champion Pete Sampras in the fourth round.
A teenager prevailed after three hours and 40 minutes, enduring all the obstacles and staying focused until the very last point to prevail and reach the last eight where he lost three tight sets against Tim Henman, struggling with a groin injury over the previous seven days.
Sampras had his chances in the closing stages of the decider but it wasn't to be for him, with Federer moving over the top with a late break to earn one of his most cherished triumphs in a career. A couple of months later, the young Swiss had a chance to play against the other American legend Andre Agassi in the fourth round of the US Open, losing in straight sets and setting another clash with him in Miami in March next year.
It was the first Masters 1000 final for Roger and another loss to Agassi who brought the encounter home in four sets despite trailing 4-2 in the fourth, starting all over and rattling off four straight games to avoid the decider and earn the fifth Miami Open trophy.
"For me, Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi are different players. When I was young, Pete was my favorite while Andre wasn't. I don't know, it was more special at Wimbledon than here in Miami, even though I like this place a lot.
Wimbledon has a bigger tradition and I can't compare my match against Sampras there to the one I played against Agassi here."