Entering his second Masters Cup campaign in Houston 2003, Roger Federer defeated Andre Agassi 6-7, 6-3, 7-6 in two hours and 25 minutes. The Swiss had to dig deep against the American veteran, dropping the opening set and fending off two match points in the decider's closing stages to notch the triumph.
After winning the Vienna title, Federer couldn't keep that level in Madrid, Basel and Paris, struggling with a back injury and having only a slim chance of finishing as the year-end no. 1. After the triumph over Agassi, Federer said his last match on a very high level came against Carlos Moya in the final in Vienna, hoping to repeat that in the remaining encounters in Houston.
Following the first Major crown at Wimbledon, Roger lost in the final of Gstaad to Jiri Novak in five sets ahead of the North American hard-court swing. There, Federer missed a chance to become world no. 1, losing in the fourth round of the US Open and hoping for a title defense in Vienna after suitable rest.
Delivering his best tennis, Roger claimed the tenth ATP title in the Austrian capital and the sixth of the season, defeating Carlos Moya 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 in an hour and 33 minutes. The Swiss was the player to beat on that day, building fortress around his serve and pushing Moya to the limits on the return to create seven break chances and convert four.
Carlos served at 45%, a recipe for disaster as he couldn't move Federer from the comfort zone or get more free points.
Roger had many more winners and forced a lot of errors with his sharp forehand, having a clear edge in the shortest and mid-range rallies to secure the victory in straight sets.
The Swiss held after deuce in the opening game, settled into a nice rhythm, served well and broke Carlos at 4-3 when the Spaniard sent a forehand wide. Federer clinched the opener with an ace in game nine after just 26 minutes and grabbed a break at love in the third game of the second set following a weak forehand from Moya who was more and more frustrated as the encounter unfolded.
Federer cemented the break with four winners in game four, creating three more opportunities on the return at 4-2 that could have sent him even further ahead. Carlos saved them and remained within one break deficit, finally creating some damage on the return in the next game, reaching three deuces but not making that extra push.
That game gave an even more significant boost to Federer who broke again to grab the set 6-3 and move one away from the title after only an hour. The Swiss lost just seven points on serve in the third set and the pressure was entirely on Moya who couldn't endure it, wasting three game points before Roger clinched a break with a solid forehand attack for a 5-3 advantage, moving over the finish line a few minutes later and starting a title celebration for the second consecutive year in Vienna.
"I played great in Vienna and I never found that rhythm again, despite reaching the semis in Madrid. I couldn't play at my best in Basel and Paris due to back spasm and the last time I was playing on a high level was against Carlos Moya in Vienna," Roger Federer said.