Roger Federer was one of the best players of the season in 2003, winning almost 80 matches and seven titles, including Wimbledon and the Masters Cup in Houston. Nonetheless, the Swiss didn't make the best possible start of the campaign, struggling with a leg injury in Doha and Sydney and heading to the Australian Open with only a couple of matches under his belt.
In Melbourne, one of the title favorites kicked off the campaign with a challenging 7-6, 7-5, 6-3 triumph over the Brazilian Flavio Saretta in two hours and 48 minutes, converting six out of 17 break chances and suffering three breaks to find himself over the top without having to spend more time on the court.
Saretta stayed in touch with the Swiss in the opening two sets before Roger ran away in the third, feeling better on the court but still feeling there's room for improvement if he wanted to fight for the trophy. "The leg was fine today; I'm happy about that.
I had to run a lot and it was a tough match. I'm glad that I went okay; I like how I played. The last time I played on the Centre court was against Tommy Haas in 2002. It's a nice atmosphere and the Aussie people are friendly. It's important to find the right form in the first couple of matches and I think I can play better in the next one.
I played three or four encounters before Melbourne; I couldn't compete at the highest level because of my injury but it seems it's been fine now. I'm happy I went through in straight sets because it could have easily gone to the fourth or even the fifth.
I'm delighted to sneak out of this one; now I'm looking forward to the next challenge. I don't know if anyone is taking performance-enhancing drugs. I hope not because everybody wants a clean sport. With blood tests, it gets a little bit more personal but I don't have any problems with that as I have nothing to worry about."
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