‘I failed to become No. 1, but will chase the throne next year’

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Roger Federer claimed the first Major title at Wimbledon 2003 and became one of the contenders for the ATP throne. 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 waiting 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 top-10 wins and 750 points under his belt, Federer wrapped up the season ranked 2nd behind Andy Roddick, preparing for an even better run in 2004.

Federer scored his first victories over Andre Agassi and David Nalbandian in the round-robin encounters in Houston and toppled Juan Carlos Ferrero in the last test to advance into 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 and making a further step.

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 to lift the trophy. 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 could not 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 could not 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 closed the 2003 season ranked 2nd behind Andy Roddick.

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

Losing ground completely in set number two, Andre clinched only four points in his games and suffered a bagel that propelled Federer closer to the finish line. At the beginning of the third set, the American survived a couple of tight service games 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 season’s second notable title. After the match, Federer said he wants to chase the ATP throne in the upcoming season and challenge Andy Roddick following that impressive Houston run.

“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.