Despite some ups and downs, Roger Federer was among the best players in the world in the first half of 2003, winning titles in Marseille, Dubai and Munich and reaching the final in Rome. The Swiss suffered an early defeat at Roland Garros like a year ago, bouncing back on the pitch and claiming his first ATP title on the fastest surface in Halle.
En route to Wimbledon as one of the favorites, Federer dropped a set in seven meetings to lift the Major's first crown at 21, improving his chances of becoming world number one soon. After winning 120 points in Gstaad right after Wimbledon (Jiri Novak defeated him in five sets in the final), Federer came within one win of becoming world number one in Montreal, stopped by Andy Roddick in the semi-finals and looking for another chance.
in Cincinnati a week later. It wasn't for the Swiss in Ohio as well, fending off seven match points against ranked Scott Draper in the first round before suffering a 7-6, 7-6 loss to David Nalbandian in two hours and six minutes.
Both players scored three breaks, and David claimed just two more points than Federer, staying focused on the decisive moments to extend the winning streak against the Swiss who had yet to beat the Argentine at the main level.
"Yeah, looking at the results, David is a tough matchup for me. I still have to beat him in the senior ranks, scoring a win in the junior ranks. He was not tired; I felt good until the end. Otherwise, he couldn't come back from a 5-2 down.
The heat was not the problem either. I lost because I didn't play well, that's simple. I am not happy with my game in the last two games. Somehow I achieved a victory yesterday, but not today. We were both late for Cincinnati, which was not a problem; his style is hard on me.
I didn't think to say it would be no. 1 this week, keeping my focus on matches." Serbia Open runner-up Aslan Karatsev recently spoke with Championat, where he disclosed that he used to idolize Roger Federer in his initial years.
Karatsev talks about Roger Federer
"I like Agassi, Sampras," Aslan Karatsev said. "When they left, I watched Roger Federer. The game that he shows, I think, cannot be compared with anything." The Russian also claimed he had no idea how Federer had managed to keep himself in good enough shape to compete actively with the younger players on the tour.
"It's phenomenal (that he's playing till the age of 39), I would say," Karatsev added. "And in the form in which he keeps himself, this is a rarity. I don't know how he can keep himself in such physical shape.
He moves great. Move like that at 40! This is phenomenal, I think so."