Roger Federer claimed eight titles and 101 triumphs at Wimbledon over the last two decades, winning the junior title in 1998 and competing in London every year since 1999. The young Swiss needed a couple of years to find his A-game at the All England Club, losing to Jiri Novak in a five-setter in 1999 and to Yevgeny Kafelnikov in three tight sets a year later, still seeking the first win at his beloved Major.
It came in grand style in 2001 when world no. 15 toppled Christophe Rochus 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 in just over an hour. Federer lost serve once, but no one could notice that after a stellar performance on the return, delivering six breaks to leave the Belgian far behind and set the clash against another one.
In round two, Roger had to work much harder, prevailing over Xavier Malisse 6-2, 7-5, 3-6, 4-6, 6-3 after two and a half hours, defending 22 out of 26 break chances and scoring five breaks to cross the finish line first and move into the third round.
Roger Federer beat Jonas Bjorkman in three sets at Wimbledon 2001.
Federer wasn't happy with his performance, struggling to find the rhythm from the baseline and add more free points from the initial shot that would have kept his service game safer.
Despite winning ten points fewer than Malisse, he went through and felt mighty relieved to find himself in the last 32, where he faced Jonas Bjorkman. The Swiss needed two hours and 21 minutes to beat the more experienced Swede 7-6, 6-3, 7-6 and set the anticipated encounter against the seven-time champion Pete Sampras.
Federer had to give his best in his games, like against Malisse, facing 11 break chances and repelling ten of those to mount the pressure on the other side of the net. The more experienced Bjorkman played well, but it wasn't enough at least for a set, getting broken twice from eight opportunities offered to Roger and losing ground in both tie breaks, which made all the difference.
We have to notice another essential detail from this encounter: Roger fell a couple of times to hurt his groin, taking painkillers to get ready for the next match against Sampras, the most important one of his young career.