Back in 2001, Roger Federer reached back-to-back Major quarter-finals at Roland Garros and Wimbledon just before turning 20, making significant steps towards the place in the top-10. Still, that had to wait until May 2002 following his first Masters 1000 crown in Hamburg, joining the elite and hoping for more of the same at Roland Garros and Wimbledon.
Instead of that, the Swiss had to leave both Majors much earlier than he expected, suffering the first-round losses and dropping both the points and confidence ahead of the North American hard-court swing that brought him nothing good as well, both on and off the court.
At the US Open, Roger finally won three back-to-back matches to advance into the fourth round, beating Xavier Malisse 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 in two and 13 minutes to hit the last 16. Following a slow start, Federer found the rhythm to bring the victory home and add more points to his tally, starting to feel confident again and preparing for the clash against Max Mirnyi whom he beat in the semi-final in Hamburg.
Speaking about the last 15 months or so, Roger mentioned that groin injury from Wimbledon last year that prevented him from playing his best tennis in the second part of the season, missing a chance to fight for the place at the Masters Cup.
Despite that title in Hamburg, the first eight months of 2002 were solid but not great as well, with a lot of early exits and that emotional struggle after the death of his friend and the first coach Peter Carter less than a month before the start of the US Open.
"In 2001, I suffered that groin injury at Wimbledon and didn't play before the US Open, reaching the fourth round here in New York but still hurting and not playing injury-free. I had to seek the form until Basel and it went away.
That was disappointing because I think I still had a small chance to reach the Masters. In the end, I had no chance because I just couldn't get my rhythm. This year, other things have happened outside of the court and I lost a lot of confidence. Wimbledon this year was for me a tough tournament; that didn't help either."
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