Despite early setbacks, Roger Federer was among the players to beat in the opening months of 2003 season. The Swiss couldn't play at 100% in Doha and Sydney due to a groin injury, reaching the fourth round at the Australian Open and finding his A-game in February.
Roger grabbed two Davis Cup wins over the Netherlands before conquering the title in Marseille, followed by the semi-final in Rotterdam and another crown in Dubai, beating all five rivals in straight sets for the second trophy in three tournaments.
Gustavo Kuerten prevailed over him in the third round of Indian Wells, having the upper hand in the decisive moments of both sets and sending Roger to Miami where he wanted to bounce back and hit the winning course again.
A year ago, Federer reached his first Masters 1000 final in Florida, playing on a high level to beat Albert Portas, Tim Henman and Andrei Pavel to set the semi-final duel with Lleyton Hewitt. Roger won that one 6-3, 6-4 for the best result at the premium ATP events up to that point, facing a multiple Miami champion Andre Agassi in the battle for the trophy.
The more experienced American scored a victory in four sets, overcoming a deficit in the fourth set to seal the deal without having to play a decider. Roger wanted to go one step further in 2003, kicking off the campaign with a 6-2, 7-5 triumph over Luis Horna from Peru.
Roger lost serve only once and delivered four on the other hand to control the scoreboard, having to work a little bit harder in set number two but moving over the top with a late break to find himself in the third round.
"The most important thing is to win the match; I wasn't scared of going into the third set and that wouldn't be a problem for me physically. I felt fine on the court, sweating a lot due to humidity but I got used to that in the last couple of days."