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Roger Federer recalls: ‘Let them speak I’m not the favorite, that suits me’

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After a slow start of the season, Roger Federer picked the form in February 2003. Federer won titles in Marseille and Dubai and scored four singles Davis Cup triumphs that propelled Switzerland into the World Group semi-final.

Taking a few weeks off, Federer was back on the court in Munich, lifting the title in style and looking good a week later in Rome, advancing to his second Masters 1000 final on clay and losing to Felix Mantilla in straight sets.

The Swiss failed to defend the title in Hamburg and experienced an early loss to Luis Horna at Roland Garros, having enough time to prepare for the grass season. Roger took down Nicolas Kiefer in the final in Halle for his first ATP crown on the fastest surface, gathering a boost for Wimbledon, where he went all the way to claim the first Major trophy.

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Roger Federer was among the favorites at the 2003 US Open.
Federer lost only one set in seven encounters, delivering incredible tennis against Andy Roddick and Mark Philippoussis to shake the pressure off his back and place the first Major trophy in his cabinet.

With no rest, Roger competed at his home event in Gstaad on clay, suffering a five-set loss to Jiri Novak in the title match and earning a chance to become world no. 1 in Montreal and Cincinnati. In the Canada Open semi-final, Andy Roddick toppled Roger in the deciding tie break to keep him away from the ATP throne.

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The Swiss squandered the opportunity in Cincinnati, too, following a loss to David Nalbandian. Heading to the US Open, Federer was among the title favorites, hoping for the first deep run in New York and another big trophy on his tally.

Roddick was the favorite, and that worked nicely for Federer, who did not want to carry that pressure before the start of the event. “I can say I’m ready to make the first big step at the US Open. I had a few days off before coming here to practice; I’m willing to improve my New York results.

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Facing Andy Roddick on hard and grass is an entirely different experience. In Montreal, he stood further behind on the second serve return and tried to be more aggressive on his second serve. The ball bounces much higher on hard court, and you have to play longer rallies from behind.

You have to be careful with your spins as well. I did not feel good in Cincinnati; I never felt the ball. I got lucky against Draper but not against Nalbandian, who knows how to compete against me. In the beginning, I did not feel good here in New York too.

It became better in the last two days, and I play only on Tuesday or Wednesday, so it should be o.k. People can pick Andy Roddick as the favorite; that does not change much. The pressure should be on him and not me, which is even better,” Roger Federer said.

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