After lifting the first Wimbledon crown in 2003, Roger Federer had the opportunity to become world no. 1 that summer. The Swiss was a win away from the ATP throne in Montreal, denied by Andy Roddick in the semi-final and missing more chances after early losses in Cincinnati and the US Open.
Federer wrapped up the season ranked 2nd after winning the first ATP Masters Cup title, preparing to attack the ATP throne in 2004. Traveling to Australia without Peter Lundgren or any other coach, Federer proved to be the player to beat in the opening six rounds, using a favorable draw to reach the fourth round in style.
Facing more dangerous opponents, Federer ousted the home star Lleyton Hewitt and David Nalbandian to find himself in the semis for the first time. Roger had a negative score against both rivals at that moment, losing a set but controlling the pace in those encounters for his best result at Melbourne Park.
Standing one triumph away from reaching the final and becoming world no. 1, Roger toppled Juan Carlos Ferrero 6-4, 6-1, 6-4 in an hour and a half, advancing into the second Major final and conquering the ATP rankings at 22.
Federer defended all four break chances, earning his fourth victory over Juan Carlos who couldn't match Roger's numbers, suffering four breaks to propel Roger through. Servers marched through the opening six service games, with Federer experiencing first troubles at 3-3.
The Swiss repelled four break points in his only loose service game, staying on the positive side of the scoreboard and delivering a break at love in game ten to take the opener 6-4.
Roger reached the final at the Australian Open 2004 even without a coach.
Roger grabbed another break in the second game of the second set, earning another one at 4-1 and sealing it with a service winner that moved him closer to the finish line. At 3-3 in the third set, Federer moved in front with the fourth and last break of serve, emerging at the top with a service winner in the tenth game to become world no.
1 for the first time and challenge Marat Safin in the title clash. Asked about the fact he came to Melbourne with no coach, Roger explained he is grateful to all of them for everything they had done. Still, he was the one who had to go out and compete, feeling proud about becoming the world's leading player.
"This no. 1 honor doesn't just come like this. This has been a lot of work on the practice courts and all the other places. I've been working as hard as I could the last few years. All the coaches that have helped me definitely deserve something of it.
But, in the end, it's me on the tennis court and serving out the match, not the coach. So I'm definitely very proud," Roger Federer said.