Heading to Indian Wells with most victories on the Tour in 2003, Roger Federer couldn’t find his best tennis at the “Sunshine double,” losing before the semi-finals at the opening Masters 1000 events of the season and taking some rest after two Davis Cup wins over France.
Roger kicked off the clay-court campaign in Munich, winning the title after five dominant victories over lower-ranked rivals and building confidence ahead of the Masters 1000 event in Rome where he only had two wins before that spring.
In the first encounter in the Italian capital, Roger toppled Paul-Henri Mathieu 6-2, 7-5 in an hour and 27 minutes, playing well in the opener and overcoming a break deficit in the second set to avoid playing a decider. The Swiss had better numbers on both the first and second serve, getting broken twice from seven chances offered to the Frenchman and delivering five breaks to book the place in the next round.
Asked about talent, Roger admitted a lot of people like his game because of his touch, spins, slices and net approaches. Still, he noted there are many more aspects that make a complete player, hoping to achieve them all and working hard physically while dreaming of becoming world no 1.one day.
“Talent is very tough to describe. A lot of people love my game because I’m so relaxed on the court and I play with touch, going with spin, slices, net rushings. It can also be a disadvantage but some people don’t understand that.
Lleyton Hewitt, for example, has an unbelievable fitness and mental toughness; that’s also a kind of talent for me, just in a different part of the game. I’m maybe more relaxed out there but that will not earn victories for you.
I still have to work very hard physically to reach the level I want and, hopefully, within a couple of years, become world no. 1 in the world. I’m not even thinking about that right now; it’s more about playing very consistent and get better mentally.
I feel much better on the court because I have been working very hard lately. A few years ago, everybody was talking about my talent and how easy it looks when I hit. That makes you feel you have to go with miracle shots and be a crowd-pleaser but I have stopped with that.
I want to score victories and not have the shot of the tournament every time. I know the right moments for the right shots now and that’s very important for my game. Also, I have been in the top-5 for six months now and that’s a massive step for me mentally. I feel like I can change a match both mentally and physically now, hanging in there and waiting for my chances.”