Roger Federer's first Grand Slam trophy came almost 18 years ago on the grass of Wimbledon, England, after defeating Australian Mark Philippoussis in the final. The young Swiss continued the season losing in the last match in Geneva against Jiri Novak and missing the opportunity to conquer the top of the ATP ranking in the summer tournaments on North American hard, losing in the semifinals in Montreal and in the second round in Cincinnati.
Presenting himself at the US Open in New York, Roger defeated José Acasuso, Monegasque Jean-René Lisnard and James Blake to reach the round of 16, chasing the second Grand Slam title. As reported by Tennis World USA, here are the words of the then Wimbledon champion after winning in three sets against Blake, who came after using only 3 break points out of 23: “I don't know how many break opportunities he missed.
I know I have had several, especially in the second part. There have probably been a few games in the past with a similar number of unconverted break chances, it happens. When you miss the first few opportunities, the opponent begins to serve better and it becomes more difficult to get the serve.
In the second set I always felt in control, being ahead before James could drag me to the tiebreak. In the first part there was not much pace, there were several quick points. I didn't feel well, especially at the beginning, struggling to find a grip in the cold night session.
It took some time and then I started playing better at the end of the set, getting a break and taking the lead. The second set was excellent for both of us, I am happy with my overall performance. My next opponent is David Nalbandian, I don't have a good balance with him.
I am positive in view of the new challenge; it's time for me to beat him after getting close a couple of times. I am ready to fight."
Roddick reflects on Roger Federer
Against that background, Tennis Channel recently invited four-time Major winner Jim Courier and 2003 US Open champion Andy Roddick to discuss Roger Federer's prospects in the clay season.
The panel host Steve Weissman first cited the words of Federer's long-time coach Severin Luthi, who believes that his ward is still lagging in terms of match fitness. "Roger Federer throughout his career has not played events he's not ready to play," Roddick said.
"He's been fine sitting out weeks, months, especially late in his career he's been really pragmatic about what he plays. At this point of his career, what it tells me is he wants to play in front of his home crowd, wants to play Roland Garros," Roddick added.
"Maybe he doesn't know what next year brings, for me he's dealing with being fully fit. This says he wants a chance to potentially say goodbye to Roland Garros if next year doesn't happen."