Roger Federer claimed the first Masters 1000 title in Hamburg 2002, cracking the top-10 on the following day and remaining on the course towards the very top of men's tennis. In 2003, the Swiss claimed seven ATP titles, including Wimbledon and the Masters Cup, becoming world no.
1 after conquering the Australian Open at the beginning of the next season. For the next four and a half years, Roger was the leader of the pack, achieving numerous records and milestones that would take some beating and establishing himself as one of the greatest players of all time and the dominant figure on the hard courts.
2004 was the first season with Federer having the upper hand over the rest of the field from start to finish, winning 74 out of 80 matches and claiming 11 titles to forge a massive gap over the closest rivals. After that Australian Open title, Federer scored two Davis Cup wins over the Romanians before Tim Henman delivered his first loss in the Rotterdam quarter-final, going all the way in Dubai and getting a chance to serve revenge against the Briton in Indian Wells final.
Roger's previous Indian Wells campaigns were not that successful, winning three out of six matches between 2001-03 and changing all that in 2004 after claiming the first Masters 1000 title in the desert and the second overall.
Skipping the opening round as the top seed, Federer took down Andrei Pavel 6-1, 6-1 in 64 minutes for a perfect start, losing just 13 points on serve and breaking the Romanian five times to march into the third round where he faced a more dangerous rival in Fernando Gonzalez.
The Chilean couldn't match Roger's numbers as well, losing 6-3, 6-2 in 63 minutes after creating only one break chance, allowing Roger to clinch three return games and control the scoreboard all the time and move into the last 16.
Roger Federer defeated Tim Henman to claim the first Indian Wells title in 2004.
There, world no. 19 Mardy Fish fought well in the opening set before Federer forged a 6-4, 6-1 triumph in 71 minutes, playing against one break chance and stealing Fish's serve on three occasions to race into the last eight where he was the clear favorite against Juan Ignacio Chela.
It was another short day at the office for the Swiss, notching a 6-2, 6-1 triumph in 63 minutes to book the place in the last four, getting broken for the first time during the event and erasing that deficit with a stellar performance on the return to make another big step towards the title.
Saving six out of seven break chances in the opening four encounters and spending just over four hours on the court, Federer was in great form ahead of the semi-final clash with Andre Agassi. The Swiss defeated the American 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in an hour and 53 minutes, scoring one break in sets two and three to leave the veteran behind.
The decider's eighth game could have been the pivotal one, with Andre creating a couple of break opportunities that could have sent him over the top. Roger stayed calm, though, erasing both with forehand winners and taking four points in a row in the next game to break Agassi and get a chance to serve for the place in the final.
Two aces sealed the deal for the Swiss, advancing into the title match where he met Tim Henman on March 21, seeking the first desert crown. Mighty relieved after that tight win over Agassi, Roger proved to be too strong for the Briton, beating him 6-3, 6-3 in 67 minutes for the second Masters 1000 trophy and the second notable one in 2004.
It was their eighth meeting on the Tour and only the second win for the Swiss, who had struggled to keep the pace with the more experienced rival on the fastest surfaces in their first clashes, delivering his best tennis in this one to control the scoreboard all the time.
Roger lost only nine points on serve in total, facing no troubles behind the initial shot and mounting the pressure on the other side of the net to create six break chances and convert three that propelled him over the finish line.
Federer hit more winners and fewer unforced errors, destroying Henman in the mid-range exchanges to win the first out of three consecutive titles in the desert. A forehand winner gave Roger two break points in the fourth game, converting the second after Tim's forced volley error to create a 3-1 gap, cementing the break with a service winner in the next game and clinching the opener with a hold at love at 5-3 in 29 minutes.
Henman hit a double fault to give serve away in the second set's third game, and Roger moved 3-1 up with a service winner before wrapping up the triumph when Tim netted a backhand in the ninth game to lift the crown and start the reign at this event.