Roger Federer: 'My record against the top-10 players wasn't that good before Houston'

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Roger Federer: 'My record against the top-10 players wasn't that good before Houston'

Heading to the Masters Cup with a 4-5 score against the top-10 rivals in 2003, Roger Federer was the player to beat in the season's last event. Not playing at his best in Basel and Paris due to a back injury, Roger had to fight against the players he never defeated before in Houston, facing Andre Agassi and David Nalbandian in the opening encounters.

Federer had to work hard to topple the American veteran, fending off two match points in the deciding set tie break to prevail 6-7, 6-3, 7-6 and make a winning start. In the second encounter, the Swiss notched the first victory over David Nalbandian, beating the Argentine 6-3, 6-0 and gathering confidence ahead of the following challenges.

In the last round-robin clash, Roger ousted world no. 2 Juan Carlos Ferrero 6-3, 6-1, finishing the first part of the job correctly and setting the semi-final clash with world no. 1 Andy Roddick. In his best match of the week up to that point, the Swiss bested the American 7-6, 6-2, advancing into the final and taking an extra step after the semi-final loss in Shanghai a year ago.

Roger never faced a break point and tamed his strokes nicely to hit 30 winners and around ten unforced errors. Roddick couldn't follow that pace, trailing in the shortest and more advanced exchanges and losing ground after the opening set tie break to propel Roger into the title clash.

Roger Federer defeated Andy Roddick to reach the Masters Cup final in 2003.

"This has been my best match of the week so far. I played solid tennis from start to finish. In the previous three encounters, I had to deal with great returners.

Today, a great server was on the other side of the net, and it was a completely different experience. Tomorrow should be the biggest test in the final; I'm looking forward to it. I still have to play one big match. I have a chance to improve my ranking and become world no.

2; that's an extra motivation. To compete at the Masters Cup is a great thing alone; I took an extra step in comparison to Shanghai last year, and I have a chance to win the tournament. Andy had to work hard in his round-robin matches while I had only one tricky clash; I preserved more energy and played on a high level today.

Both Andre and I will give our best in the final. We played a few days ago, and now we have to do it again at the same tournament; I have never experienced that before. It should be an intense battle; he will make me work. It's the last match of the season, and I will give everything to win.

My record against the top-10 players wasn't that good before the Masters Cup; I have polished that up, and it's a nice feeling," Roger Federer said.