Wimbledon 2002 was one of the strangest in the Open era, with only a couple of top-15 seeds advancing into the quarters and two baseliners reaching the title match. Alongside many other favorites, Roger Federer had to pack his bags much earlier than expected, suffering a 6-3, 7-6 6-3 loss in the first round to an 18-year-old qualifier Mario Ancic who had no ATP wins ahead of Wimbledon!
A year ago, Federer took down the seven-time champion Pete Sampras en route to the quarter-final, hoping for more of the same in 2002 and dreaming about winning the title. However, that couldn't happen following a mediocre performance against Ancic, never finding the rhythm on serve and allowing Mario to control the points and have the upper hand.
There were many stories about the surface's speed that year, and Federer had no doubts it was much slower than in 2001, barely hitting aces and not using the initial shot as a weapon. Mighty disappointed, Federer couldn't find the way to describe defeat in the press conference, saying he has to work hard for the upcoming North American swing after early exits at Roland Garros and Wimbledon, where he failed to score wins.
Roger Federer spoke about the surface at Wimbledon 2002.
"Mario deserves to be through because I couldn't come up with the right shots at the right moment. That hurts, especially in a Major and with the best-of-five encounters, where I think I'm the better player.
Today it was just too bad. I couldn't figure out his serve and struggled to read the toss. His return worked well too. I felt right from the beginning that my serve wasn't there; I tried to bring as many first serves in, but as soon as I wanted to go harder and hit an ace, it wouldn't come in.
The conditions are much slower in comparison to the last year. I haven't looked at the stats, but I think I hit one ace or so. It's a joke, as I had around 25 against Pete last year. I don't know what went wrong today, but my serve wasn't there at all.
I was looking forward a lot to this tournament, especially when I heard we would play on the Centre Court; it's a special place out there, and I love playing on it. After those matches against Pete Sampras and Tim Henman last year, it is a shocker to lose like this today; I'm very disappointed. I will have to work hard and come back stronger for the American hard swing," Roger Federer said.