In the battle for the final and points for the year-end no. 1 ranking, Juan Carlos Ferrero took down Roger Federer 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 in an hour and 52 minutes in Madrid 2003. The home star grabbed one point more than the Wimbledon champion, offering Roger only two break chances and earning two return games to move over the top and advance into the title match.
The Swiss had more winners and more forced errors, with a slight advantage in the shortest rallies and lost ground in the more extended exchanges that kept Ferrero in. The Spaniard grabbed a break in the opener's fifth game, dropping two points behind the initial shot to control the scoreboard and take it 6-4.
Federer took charge in set number two, serving well and earning a break at 15 in the tenth game to bring a decider where he had the upper hand. Still, Ferrero played on a higher level, clinching a break after a return winner and a couple of Roger's double faults to bring the encounter home and terminate Federer's run in the semis.
Roger Federer lost to Juan Carlos Ferrero in Madrid 2003.
"I wasn't happy with my game today. I had some good moments, but it was full of ups and downs in the others. I was controlling the match, not Juan Carlos, taking chances and making too many errors.
My return was horrible in the first set. Maybe he has improved his serve, I don't know, but it worked well for him today. I was struggling with the rhythm and reading the serve. Things got better for me in sets two and three, but not enough to cross the finish line first.
I have played consistent tennis for an entire season; I needed a couple of years to reach that level and stay on a high note for three or four consecutive weeks. I never got the rhythm here in Madrid; I have been saying that since the first match.
Despite that, I have reached the semi-final and fought against world no. 1. I'm tired now, but I have to give my best in Basel next week; playing in front of the home fans motivates me greatly. My first match would be on Tuesday, and we will see what happens.
This encounter was important for the year-end no. 1 battle, and Ferrero has an advantage over me now. I will try to compete well in Basel, as in the previous three years, and then improve my Paris results. World no. 1 position is not on my mind like it was this summer when I was really close.
I'm relaxed, and better things will come with more experience. I don't have to chase that spot at the Masters Cup like in 2002, and that's fine," Roger Federer said.