Wimbledon 2002 was one of the strangest in the Open era, with only a couple of top-15 seeds reaching the quarters and with two baseliners reaching the title match. Alongside many other favorites, Roger Federer had to pack his bags much earlier than he expected, suffering a 6-3, 7-6 6-3 loss in the first round to an 18-year-old qualifier Mario Ancic who had no ATP wins before Wimbledon!
A year ago, Federer took down the seven-time champion Pete Sampras en route to the quarter-final, hoping for more of the same in 2002 and dreaming about winning the title. That couldn't happen, though, following a mediocre performance against Ancic, never finding the rhythm on serve and allowing Mario to control the points and have the upper hand all the time.
There were many stories about the speed of the surface that year and Federer had no doubts it was much slower than in 2001, barely hitting aces and not being able to use the initial shot as a weapon. Mighty disappointed, Federer couldn't find the way to describe defeat in the press conference, saying he has to work hard for the upcoming North American swing after early exits at both Roland Garros and Wimbledon.
"Mario deserves to be through because I just couldn't come up with the right shots at the right moment. That hurts, especially in a Grand Slam over five sets where I think I'm the better player. Today it was just too bad.
I couldn't figure out his serve, struggling to read the toss. He returned pretty good as well. I felt right from the beginning that my serve wasn't there; I tried to bring as many first serves in as possible but as soon as I wanted to go harder and hit an ace, it wouldn't come in.
The conditions are much slower in comparison to the last year. I haven't looked at the stats but I think I hit one ace or so. It's a joke, as I had around 25 against Pete last year. I don't know what went wrong today but my serve wasn't there at all.
I was looking forward a lot to this tournament, especially when I heard we would play on the Centre Court; it's a special place out there and I love playing on it. After those matches against Pete Sampras and Tim Henman last year, it is a shocker to lose like this today; I'm very disappointed. I will have to work hard and come back stronger for the American hard swing."