Entering the season as one of the world's best players, Roger Federer claimed titles in Marseille and Dubai in the opening months of 2003, leading the standings with the most ATP wins. The Swiss played well in Munich and Rome on clay, suffering an early loss at Roland Garros and finding the form again on his beloved grass, lifting the trophy in Halle and heading to Wimbledon as one of the favorites.
Delivering his best tennis at the All England Club, Federer took down Andy Roddick and Mark Philippoussis to embrace tennis glory and earn the first Major crown at 21. Fulfilling his talent and potential, Federer was now one of the candidates for the ATP throne, playing at home in Gstaad right after Wimbledon and losing in the final to Jiri Novak in five sets.
With world no. 1 position within his reach in Montreal, Roger was a win away from becoming the world's best player, losing the decisive match to Andy Roddick in the semis and struggling at the beginning of Cincinnati a few days later.
Roger Federer gained popularity after winning his first Major at Wimbledon 2003.
A qualifier Scott Draper, ranked 114th, had seven match points against the Swiss in the first round before Federer prevailed 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(10) after two hours and two minutes, repeating that feat once in the next 18 years against Tennys Sandgren in January 2020 in Melbourne.
Federer fended off nine out of ten break chances but couldn't find the rhythm on the return, scoring one break in the second set to stay in contention and surviving those tough moments in the decider's closing stages to avoid an unexpected loss and make a winning start.
After the match, the Swiss spoke about popularity following that Wimbledon crown, with many people praising his game and supporting him. "It seems like I have a lot of fans around the world after winning Wimbledon. Many people have told me I'm their favorite player and how they love my game, coming to the matches to support me.
It wasn't easy for me today, struggling to find the rhythm and chasing the result. I think I have improved that segment of my game, coming from behind more often than before. You have to do that when you are at the top, as it makes a massive difference if you lose in the first round or the semis.
I had to experience that last week as well. It would be nice to have one ball throughout the year, or at least standardized ones from different manufacturers. It would help with our shoulder and elbow problems. With too many people involved, it is hard to gather everyone and talk about that," Roger Federer said.