Kicking off the season ranked 6th, Roger Federer had big goals in 2003, especially at Major tournaments. The young Swiss claimed titles in Marseille and Dubai, playing well on clay and saving his best tennis for the fastest surface.
Following the first ATP title on grass in Halle, Roger went on to lift the first Major crown at Wimbledon, losing one set in seven encounters and becoming the ATP throne contender. The Swiss had the opportunity to become world no.
1 in Montreal, Cincinnati and the US Open, suffering defeats to Andy Roddick and David Nalbandian and hoping for a better run during the indoor swing. In October, Federer won the tenth ATP title in Vienna, advancing into the Madrid semi-final a week later and seeking more deep runs in Basel and Paris.
Dealing with back problems, Roger experienced early exits at both events, ruining his chances of finishing the season at the top ahead of Andy Roddick and Juan Carlos Ferrero. With slim possibilities, Federer made a winning start at the ATP Masters Cup in Houston, fending off two match points in a 6-7, 6-3, 7-6 triumph over Andre Agassi.
The encounter lasted for two hours and 25 minutes, and Roger had to dig deep to oust the veteran, coming from a set down and wasting a massive lead in the decider that could have cost him dearly.
Roger Federer made a winning start at the Masters Cup 2003.
The Swiss regained his strokes in set number two and forced a 5-3 advantage in the decider.
Gathering boost from the home crowd, Agassi pulled the break back in the last moment following Roger's double fault to level the score at 5-5 and setting the tie break. A forehand winner gave Agassi the first match point at 5-5, denied by a service winner from Roger, who sprayed a forehand mistake to offer a second chance to the American.
He saved it with a perfect forehand down the line winner in the 14th point, took another point on the return and sealed the deal with a forehand crosscourt winner for a winning start ahead of the David Nalbandian clash. Asked about the year-end no.
1 situation, Federer admitted he wasn't in a good position, trying to give his best and focusing on the encounters instead of ranking charts. "I wasn't thinking about the year-end no. 1 spot during the encounter.
That's not in my power, and I don't know what needs to happen. I think Roddick has to lose all matches, a possible scenario in a strong group, but my chances are small," Roger Federer said.