Wimbledon 2002 was one of the strangest in the Open era, with almost all the favorites bowing out before the final rounds and two baseliners in the quest for the trophy, just a year after that memorable final between Goran Ivanisevic and Patrick Rafter.
In 2003, the more aggressive players were ready to bounce back and prove their quality, especially when Ivo Karlovic stunned the defending champion Lleyton Hewitt in the first round, leaving Roger Federer as the highest remained seed in that part of the draw.
In the first round, Federer defeated Hyung-Taik Lee in straight sets, moving to the Centre Court against Stefan Koubek in the second round and trailing 5-2 after the first and only break that the Austrian scored on that day.
Repelling a set point and returning stronger after a rain delay, Federer raised his game to leave his good friend far behind, rattling off 17 of the last 19 games to book the place in the third round after just 77 minutes.
Speaking about the draw, Federer still stood with both feet on the ground, saying he still has to win four matches to reach the final, despite the fact he was the highest seed left in the draw following that Hewitt's unexpected loss.
Also, Federer claimed his first ATP title on grass a few weeks earlier in Halle, making a comparison between the surfaces in Germany and at Wimbledon and praising the perfect bounce at the All England Club. "The best-of-five matches are always tough and I can't think too far ahead.
I know I'm the highest seed left in my part of the draw but I don't look at myself like I'm already in the final; other guys have good chances to do the same. My grass-court season started in Halle and there were many bad bounces, making you completely lost sometimes.
Here at Wimbledon, there are no bad bounces and it's quite amazing. That element improves the level of play and your return. If you have bad bounces in the area where you move around the net, it affects where you are going to serve.
That's not the case at Wimbledon and maybe that's why you can't play serve & volley on the second serve, with returners having no problems controlling it. The ball is bouncing high and you can play from the baseline too."