After a tough first round loss to Mario Ancic at Wimbledon 2002, former quarter-finalist Roger Federer was ready to shine again in the cathedral of tennis. The Swiss got off to a good start in the 2003 season with two wins in straight sets.
Federer won the first set in a quick 24 minutes against Hyung-Taik Lee and struggled a bit in the third, but did enough to set up the second round clash against his friend Stefan Koubek on Center Court. The Austrian battled valiantly against the youngster in the opening set, extending a 5-2 lead before Federer used a rain delay to win the game back.
After his return, the Swiss was the only player on the pitch and he has added 17 of the last 19 games to overcome the rival 7-5, 6-1, 6-1 in 77 minutes. Roger served well, scoring 22 points in 13 service games and putting himself way above Stefan when he found the A game from him to take home the victory in quick succession in sets two and three.
Koubek got off to a great start, opening a 5-2 lead with a single break before Federer rallied back, defending a set point and winning five games in a row to win the set. Roger gained tremendous momentum and raced towards the finish line with a reliable performance in sets two and three.
Federer fell twice on the slippery surface and explained that if you keep thinking about tricky plays on the pitch and you have to put that behind you and get on with your game, it doesn’t help.
King Roger made history
Former American tennis player Jan-Michael Gambill called Roger Federer a “class act” for failing to upstage Serena Williams’ retirement.
“It seemed a bit abrupt. Roger is such a class act that it almost seemed like he gave Serena some room to retreat. He didn’t do it around her, he gave that little space to breathe. We’re losing Serena now, we’re losing Roger,” the American said.
The 45-year-old also said that unlike Federer and Williams, he preferred the way Ashleigh Barty and Pete Sampras retired when they left the sport after winning Grand Slams. “That was Roger’s moment. As for getting eliminated, I still think Pete and Ash Barty did better; he wins a slam and ‘hey i’m outta here’
But it was emotional for a lot of people and for all the Roger fans because there are so many, including me, it was wonderful.”