Roger Federer knew: 'I will challenge Andy Roddick for the ATP throne'

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Roger Federer knew: 'I will challenge Andy Roddick for the ATP throne'

Winning his first Major title at Wimbledon 2003, Roger Federer became a contender for the top-tier spot in men's tennis. The Swiss had the opportunity to become world no. 1 in Montreal, Cincinnati and the US Open, losing to Andy Roddick and David Nalbandian and having to wait until the following year to achieve that.

Struggling with a back injury in Basel and Paris, Roger recovered in time for the Masters Cup and showed his best tennis in Houston to claim the title. With those five wins and 750 points under his belt, Federer closed the season ranked 2nd behind Andy Roddick, preparing for an even better run in 2004.

In the round-robin encounters, Federer scored his first victories over Andre Agassi and David Nalbandian, toppling Juan Carlos Ferrero in the last test to reach the semis in style. Roger defeated Andy Roddick 7-6, 6-2 for his first Masters Cup final, reaching the semis a year ago in Shanghai.

Facing Andre Agassi for the second time that week, Federer notched a 6-3, 6-0, 6-4 triumph, never facing a break point and stealing Agassi's serve five times. Roger lost 17 points in 12 service games, never experiencing troubles behind the initial shot and mounting the pressure on the other side of the net.

Andre couldn't match those numbers, spraying almost 20 unforced errors and hitting 11 winners from the field. Federer grabbed 46% of the return points, controlling the pace with sharp and aggressive groundstrokes that Agassi couldn't answer.

Landing 51 winners from serve and the field, Federer's strokes worked like a charm, reducing the number of errors to 12 and outplaying Andre in the shortest range up to four shots (60-36).

Roger Federer finished ther 2003 season ranked 2nd behind Andy Roddick.

Roger drew first blood in the fourth game to forge a 3-1 advantage, closing the opener with a comfortable hold at 5-3.

Losing ground completely in set number two, Andre clinched only four points in his games, suffering a bagel and propelling Federer closer to the finish line. The American survived a couple of tight service games at the beginning of the third set to stay in touch until 4-4.

Federer grabbed a crucial break in the ninth game, moving in front and sealing the deal with an ace a couple of minutes later for the second notable title of the year. "Andy Roddick deserves to finish the season at the top.

He should walk away from here and feel the best. I would feel the same way if I would be no. 1 in the world. I have played unbelievable tennis this week and will try to become world no. 1 next year. I will try to make a good start out of 2004 and challenge him for the ATP throne," said Roger Federer.