Heading to Indian Wells with most victories on the Tour in 2003, Roger Federer couldn't find his best tennis at the "Sunshine double." The Swiss lost before the semi-finals at the season's opening Masters 1000 events and took some rest after two Davis Cup wins over France.
Roger kicked off the clay-court campaign in Munich, winning the title after five dominant victories over lower-ranked rivals and building confidence ahead of the Masters 1000 event in Rome, where he only had two wins before that spring.
In the first encounter in the Italian capital, Roger toppled Paul-Henri Mathieu 6-2, 7-5 in an hour and 27 minutes, playing well in the opener and overcoming a break deficit in the second set to avoid a decider. The Swiss had better numbers on both the first and second serve, getting broken twice from seven chances offered to the Frenchman and delivering five breaks to book the place in the next round.
Asked about talent, Roger admitted that many people like his game because of his touch, spins, slices and net approaches. Still, he noted many more aspects that make a complete player, hoping to achieve them all and working hard physically while dreaming of becoming world no.
1 one day.
Roger Federer spoke about his game in Rome 2003.
"Talent is very tough to describe. Many people love my game because I'm so relaxed on the court, and I play with touch, going with spin, slices, net rushings.
It can also be a disadvantage, but some people don't understand that. Lleyton Hewitt, for example, has unbelievable fitness and mental toughness; that's also a kind of talent for me, just in a different part of the game.
I'm maybe more relaxed out there, but that will not earn victories for you. I still have to work very hard physically to reach the level I want and, hopefully, become world no. 1 in the world within a couple of years. I'm not even thinking about that right now; it's more about playing very consistently and getting better mentally.
I feel much better on the court because I have been working very hard lately. A few years ago, everybody talked about my talent and how easy it looks when I hit. That makes you feel you have to go with miracle shots and be a crowd-pleaser, but I have stopped with that.
I want to score victories and not have the shot of the tournament every time. I know the right moments for the right shots now, and that's very important for my game. Also, I have been in the top-5 for six months now, which is a massive step for me mentally.
I feel like I can change a match both mentally and physically now, hanging in there and waiting for my chances," Roger Federer said.