In 2003, Roger Federer claimed titles at Wimbledon and the ATP Masters Cup, finishing the season ranked 2nd behind the US Open winner Andy Roddick. Working with Peter Lundgren since 2000, Roger parted ways with the Swede ahead of 2004, entering the season without a coach and trying to find the new one.
With no help from his box, Federer was doing more than fine at the Australian Open, seeking both the title and the ATP throne for the first time. Roger passed the opening three obstacles without problems, beating the rivals ranked outside the top-100 to set the fourth-round clash with the home star Lleyton Hewitt.
Scoring only two wins in the previous encounters against the Aussie, Federer made no mistakes this time to reach his first Australian Open quarter-final, facing another tough rival. David Nalbandian defeated the Swiss in five sets in Melbourne a year ago, also at the US Open, with Federer serving revenge following a 7-5, 6-4, 5-7, 6-3 victory in two hours and 41 minutes, advancing to the second semi-final at Majors after Wimbledon.
Roger won six points more than David in a tight battle, firing 20 aces and erasing eight out of 11 break chances, challenging Nalbandian to repeat those numbers. The Argentine gave his best to stay in contention, suffering five breaks and losing focus in the pivotal moments to push the rival through.
Federer had to stay calm at 5-5 in the opener, erasing a break point with a booming serve and stealing Nalbandian's serve a few minutes later for a 7-5. David led 2-0 and 4-3 in set number two, dropping three straight games from there and allowing Roger to open a massive two sets to love advantage.
In Melbourne 2004, Roger Federer was focused on title, not ranking.
After losing those two close sets, Nalbandian held nerves in the third, taking Roger's serve at 5-5 and bringing it home with a smash winner for a 7-5, hoping for more of the same in the rest of the encounter.
Instead of that, Federer forged 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. Asked about world no.
1, Roger said he is focused only on winning the title, not thinking about the ATP throne and preparing for the encounter against the Spaniard. "I'm confident and I think I can beat him. Whenever you lose at Grand Slams, you will feel disappointment, the first round or the semis.
I got the game to raise the occasion; I've shown it in the past. That gives me confidence ahead of the semis and I expect to perform on a high level. I'm focused on winning the tournament, rather than becoming world no. 1. The ATP throne is secondary at the moment," Roger Federer said.