After a perfect closure of the 2003 season, Roger Federer kicked off the next one without a coach, parting ways with Peter Lundgren. Heading to Melbourne, Roger wanted to show his abilities and notch the first notable result down under, losing to David Nalbandian in a thriller a year ago.
The Swiss passed three rivals from outside the top-100 to set the clash against the home star Lleyton Hewitt. Having a negative 2-9 score against the Aussie, Federer made sure to improve that, beating Lleyton 4-6, 6-3, 6-0, 6-4 in two hours and 18 minutes for the first quarter-final in Melbourne.
There, Federer faced another player against whom he had a poor record, David Nalbandian. Suffering two Major defeats against the Argentine in 2003 at the Australian Open and the US Open, Roger was eager to avoid another one, claiming a 7-5, 6-4, 5-7, 6-3 victory in two hours and 41 minutes for the second semi-final at Majors after Wimbledon.
Roger Federer defeated Davind Nalbandian to reach the semis in Melbourne in 2004.
Federer won six points more than David, firing 20 aces and defending eight out of 11 break chances, challenging David to repeat those numbers.
The Argentine gave his best to stay in touch, suffering five breaks from Roger's 12 opportunities, losing focus in the pivotal moments to push the rival through. Federer erased a break point at 5-5 in the first set with a booming serve, gathering boost and breaking Nalbandian a few minutes later for a 7-5.
David led 2-0 and 4-3 in set number two, dropping three straight games and allowing Federer to steal it and open a massive lead. Losing ground in the closing stages of the opening two sets, Nalbandian fixed that in the third, taking Roger's serve at 5-5 and closing it with a smash winner for a 7-5, hoping for more of the same in the rest of the encounter.
Instead of that, Roger raced into a 3-0 advantage in set number four, sealing the deal with a service winner in game nine for the first semi-final in Melbourne, setting the clash against Juan Carlos Ferrero. "It should be a similar experience against Juan Carlos Ferrero, with a lot of running and smart shots to take the point.
I don't think I ever hit four straight aces, especially at this stage. In the last few days, I have been hitting with juniors; I don't have a coach, and I like to play juniors. Tomorrow, I will train with the Swiss junior, I know him and it should be fun.
It should be tough against Juan Carlos Ferrero; I have to play against three top-tier rivals, just like at the Masters Cup," Roger Federer said.