In 2001, Roger Federer was the quarter-finalist at Wimbledon at the age of 19, beating Pete Sampras to make a name for himself. The Swiss lost to Tim Henman in the battle for the semis and was among the favorites in 2003 as well, winning the first ATP title on grass in Halle a few weeks earlier.
The defending champion Lleyton Hewitt lost in the first round to Ivo Karlovic and Roger was the player to beat in that half, together with Andy Roddick who was the semi-finalist earlier that year in Melbourne. Federer passed the opening three rounds in five hours, dropping one set and playing on a high level before suffering that scary back injury during the practice run ahead of the fourth-round encounter with Feliciano Lopez.
Calling trainer and repelling set points in the opener, Federer toppled the Spaniard in three sets, feeling better as the match progressed and setting the quarter-final duel with Sjeng Schalken. The rain postponed the encounter for a day, giving them both time to recover as Schalken struggled with a foot injury.
On Court 2, Roger was too good for the Dutchman, delivering a 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 win in an hour and 38 minutes for his first Major semi-final. The Swiss lost serve once and earned four breaks against the rival who was far from his best, controlling the pace and securing the place in the next round.
"Schalken wasn't at his best, that was obvious. I had to stay focused, though, sticking to my plan and overcoming that deficit in the third. His game is o.k. for me; I can read it quite well and his serve is not that big so I can compete with him from the baseline.
When you realize your opponent has some problem, you try to figure that out and pay a little bit more attention. I didn't play that well today because of all those talks about my injury and his injury. For that reason, we didn't play a great match but it doesn't matter in the end.
I'm thrilled to be in the semis for the first time at Wimbledon. I'm also sorry for Sjeng; he couldn't do better today and it was a struggle for both of us."