In 2001, Roger Federer was the Wimbledon quarter-finalist at age 19, beating Pete Sampras to make a name for himself. The Swiss lost to Tim Henman in the battle for the semifinals and was among the favorites again in 2003, winning the first ATP grass-court title in Halle a few weeks earlier.
Defending champion Lleyton Hewitt lost in the first round to Ivo Karlovic, and Roger was the player to beat in that half alongside Andy Roddick, who was the semi-finalist earlier that year in Melbourne. Federer got through the first three rounds in five hours, dropping a set and playing at a high level before sustaining that terrifying back injury during practice leading up to the fourth round encounter with Feliciano Lopez.
Calling out the physiotherapist and repelling the set points in the first match, Federer defeated the Spaniard in three sets, feeling better as the match progressed and setting up the quarter-final duel with Sjeng Schalken.
The rain postponed the match for a day, giving both time to recover as Schalken suffered a foot injury. On court 2, Roger was too good for the Dutchman, clinching a 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 victory in one hour and 38 minutes for his first Grand Slam semi-final.
The Swiss lost his serve once and scored four breaks against an opponent who was far from his best level, controlling the pace and securing his place in the next round. "Schalken was not in the best moment of him; that was obvious.
However, I had to stay focused, stick to my plan, and overcome that handicap in the third. His game is fine. for me; I can read it quite well, and his serve is not that strong, so I can compete with him from the baseline."
Former pros Jimmy Arias and Paul Annacone recently discussed Roger Federer’s chances at Roland Garros. Arias and Annacone both believe Federer is still amongst the best claycourters in the business, and as such isn't behind too many players in the list of favorites.
Jimmy Arias opens up on Roger Federer's future
"I'm sure if things start going well at Roland Garros and Roger Federer’s making a little run then he’s not gonna just be thinking about Wimbledon," Jimmy Arias said.
"Obviously he's gonna want to win any Major that he can and he probably still is the 3rd or 4th best player on clay right now, so why not? If things open up for him, why not?" Paul Annacone reckons that his former ward is only behind Nadal and Djokovic in the pecking order, especially since Dominic Thiem has been struggling with a host of issues lately.
"Yeah look I mean we talk about Roger and his claycourt tennis, when you look at that right there (2019 RG run), he can play on clay," Annacone said. "And Jimmy you mentioned how well he’s played on clay.
There happens to be a Spanish guy that’s pretty good, has smothered some of his best chances at Roland Garros, but I agree with what you said. Other than Novak and Rafa and probably Thiem, except the way Thiem’s feeling right now emotionally, is there a lot of other people pulling ahead of Roger Federer at Roland Garros?"