Roger Federer had a notable run in 2002, winning his first Masters 1000 trophy in Hamburg and cracking the top-10 on the following day. The youngster didn't play that well in the upcoming months, having some problems on and off the court but still making the Masters Cup berth, competing in Shanghai for the first time and reaching the semi-final.
A long and grueling season certainly left a mark on the Swiss who had to deal with a leg injury at the beginning of 2003, suffering early losses in Doha and Sydney and hoping for a better run at the Australian Open. There, he took down Flavio Saretta and Lars Burgsmuller in straight sets to set the clash against the Swede Andreas Vinciguerra whom he beat 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 in an hour and 36 minutes to advance into the last 16.
Federer lost 17 points in 14 service games, suffering one break and keeping the pressure on the other side of the net to earn five breaks that carried him home in no time at all. "That break that I pulled back in the second set was one of the pivotal moments of the entire encounter.
I was serving against the sun there and couldn't take too many risks to avoid double faults. Plus, he hit an incredible passing shot on the break chance to move in front and I had to play on a high level in the next return game to erase the deficit.
If I hadn't had to play the Masters Cup, I would have been in better shape now and more time to get ready. Still, I feel I had worked well in December and it's a pity I had that injury problem in the first couple of tournaments; that's not the case anymore and I'm happy with my form.
I didn't feel anything today and things are certainly getting better. The first match here in Melbourne was a tough one; he made me work hard. In the second encounter, I had an easier day at the office ahead of today's match that made me fight hard again.
I wanted to stay aggressive behind the initial shot and avoid longer rallies and running too much. Today was a good test and I played well; I'm happy with my performance. I'm not an expert in those doping tests. I don't know how much you need to check to be 100% sure if somebody is taking something or not.
If you need to test on blood to be completely sure, it doesn't matter to me. I'm not the guy who is going to be pulled out of the tour because I'm taking anything. Blood testing is a little more delicate and we are not used to it."