Roger Federer was the quarter-finalist at Wimbledon in 2001 at 19, beating Pete Sampras to make a name for himself at the world's leading tennis event. The Swiss lost to Tim Henman in the battle for the semis and was among the favorites again in 2003, winning the first ATP title on grass in Halle a few weeks earlier.
The defending champion Lleyton Hewitt lost in the first round to Ivo Karlovic and Roger was the player to beat in that half, together with Andy Roddick, the Australian Open semi-finalist. Federer passed the opening three rounds in five hours, dropping one set and playing on a high level before suffering a scary back injury during the practice run ahead of the fourth-round encounter with Feliciano Lopez.
Calling trainer and repelling set points in the opener, Federer toppled the Spaniard in three sets, feeling better as the match progressed and setting the quarter-final duel with Sjeng Schalken. The rain postponed the encounter for a day, giving them both time to recover as Schalken struggled with a foot injury.
On Court 2, Roger proved to be too good for the Dutchman, delivering a 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 win in an hour and 38 minutes for his first Major semi-final. Federer lost serve once and earned four breaks against the rival who was far from his best, controlling the pace and advancing into the last four for the first time at that level.
Roger Federer defeated Sjeng Schalken in straight sets at Wimbledon 2003.
"Schalken wasn't at his best; that was obvious. I had to stay focused, though, sticking to my plan and overcoming that deficit in the third.
His game is o.k. for me; I can read it quite well, and his serve is not that big, so I can compete with him from the baseline. When you realize your opponent has some problem, you try to figure it out and pay a little more attention.
I didn't play that well today because of all those talks about my injury and his injury. For that reason, we didn't play a great match, but it doesn't matter after all. I'm thrilled to be in the semis for the first time at Wimbledon.
I'm also sorry for Sjeng; he couldn't do better today, and it was a struggle for both of us. I don't know if this is the next step for me; I'm in the semi-final at Wimbledon, but my rival was injured. Sjeng has been doing the same, reaching the semis at the US Open and almost repeating that here in London.
It's all about giving yourself an opportunity and then taking them; I have been doing that for two weeks and will try to go further. There was nothing wrong with my back; I'm feeling good, and I'm not worried. I'm ready for the next match.
I'm a little bit disappointed to play the quarter-final on Court 2. It doesn't matter in the end, but the atmosphere could have been better on the Centre Court or Court 1," Roger Federer said.