In 2004, Roger Federer became world no. 1 and the dominant figure in men's tennis, claiming three Majors and leaving the closest rivals far behind. At the beginning of 2005, Federer lost an epic semi-final clash with Marat Safin at the Australian Open before bouncing back to claim seven ATP titles ahead of Roland Garros, including three Masters 1000 crowns.
Following the Hamburg title, Federer suffered the semi-final loss at Roland Garros to Rafael Nadal and left it behind him quickly to claim the third straight title in Halle, hoping for more of the same at Wimbledon. The two-time All England Club champion played against Paul-Henri Mathieu in the first round and scored a 6-4, 6-2, 6-4 triumph in an hour and 50 minutes for a winning start.
Firing 18 aces, Federer lost only 17 points in his games, getting broken once and dominating on the return to secure five breaks from 15 opportunities and overcome the Frenchman in a baseline battle to find himself in the second round.
"It's a good start to the tournament. There's something special when you come back and try to defend the Wimbledon crown. I'm happy to make the first step; it's always important. I got more pressure off my back now, feeling relieved ahead of the second-round clash with Ivo Minar.
I got great applause from the crowd; they welcomed me nicely.
Roger Federer made a winning start at Wimbledon 2005 after beating Paul-Henri Mathieu.
Matches are always different than practice; you feel different straight away.
The grass was beautiful, and it was perfect when the warm-up started. Last year against Bogdanovic, I was focused on finishing the match and avoid an early exit; I didn't have enough time to enjoy the grass. I didn't play serve & volley too many times, with my first serve working like a charm; we stayed behind and competed from the baseline.
Paul-Henri was quite nervous at the beginning, experiencing those four aces from me in the first game and missing some balls as well. Because of the morning rain, the court was a little faster than in a couple of previous days when he had high bounce due to sunny weather.
You always have different serve on various surfaces, especially clay and grass. On grass, slice serve is more effective; it let me down against Nadal in Paris, and I'm glad to find it again in London. Clay and grass are very different, and I don't think about that Nadal loss at Roland Garros anymore.
I didn't watch that match again, and maybe I will if I find the time. With or without that, I know what I did right and what I did wrong," Roger Federer said.