Skipping Monte Carlo due to sickness, Roger Federer was ready to start his clay-court journey in 2003 in Munich, playing way above all the rivals for the seventh ATP crown on his tally. With no time to celebrate, the young Swiss went to Rome and extended the winning streak, losing one set en route to the quarter-final and setting the semi-final clash against Juan Carlos Ferrero.
In what should have been a thrilling contest between the leading youngsters of men's tennis, the crowd had a chance to watch them for less than an hour, as the Spaniard had to retire while trailing 6 6-4, 4-2 due to a shoulder injury.
Thus, Roger advanced to his first Masters 1000 final and the first after Hamburg last year, seeking big points and a chance to reduce the gap to the players above him on the ATP ranking list, especially Andre Agassi and Lleyton Hewitt.
Asked about Major titles or becoming world no. 1, Federer admitted he would love to achieve that but also that it takes a lot of time, as you have to play on a high level at least for a year to get in contention. "I'm not too far away from winning Majors; my ranking shows that and also the way I'm playing and the list of players I have defeated.
It takes one year of notable results and playing on a high level to get a chance to fight for no. 1 spot or a Major title. I'm not thinking about becoming no. 1 now; I'm going match by match, trying to be as consistent as possible.
If I get a chance to fight for the ATP throne, I will try my best to get there. At the moment, I'm too far away from Andre Agassi and Lleyton Hewitt in terms of the points. You need more than one Major to get closer to them; that's why I will try to go deep at every event and maybe catch them on the biggest scene."