Roger Federer won his first Major title at Wimbledon in 2003. The Swiss qualified for his second ATP Finals and went on to lift the trophy in Houston. Further improving his game, Federer was a player to beat in 2004, winning 74 of 80 matches and adding three Major crowns to his tally.
Tomas Berdych defeated the Swiss at the Athens Olympics, and Roger would only participate in three tournaments at the end of the season, winning them and closing the year with a bang. The ATP Finals returned to Houston for the last time, and Roger was the clear favorite to defend the title.
Federer eliminated Lleyton Hewitt and Gastón Gaudio before defeating Carlos Moyá in three sets to meet in the semifinal for the third time in as many appearances. Roger took on Marat Safin and beat the Russian for the sixth time in seven meetings.
Federer defended second serve more effectively, rejecting two of three break chances and providing two breaks of six chances for a 6-3, 7-6 win. The most iconic feature of the match was the second set tie break. 38 points were disputed, in which the two rivals pushed themselves to the limit, before Federer prevailed 20-18 to take the victory in straight sets and a place in the final.
Federer racked up 30 winners and 25 unforced errors, trailing Safin in the shorter rallies, as many as four shots, but erasing the deficit in the longer exchanges. Roger held 15 in the first game of the match with a service winner and got a break in the second game when Marat hit a long backhand.
The Swiss, who had dominated until then, held serve to confirm the break and take a 3-0 lead. Marat added his name to the scoreboard with a game-winning volley in the fourth game and held serve to cut the deficit to 4-2, waiting for a few return opportunities in the rest of the set.
Instead, Roger closed out Game 7 with a forehand game winner down the line to stay in front. He wasted two set points on the return at 5-2 before closing out the first game with a hold to 30 in the next at 6-3.
King Roger retired in September
Roger Federer won’t be skiing any time soon as his “knees are so-so”, but he is planning more adventurous holidays with his family and Africa is high on the to-do list.
“I am still a little bit scared [when it comes other sports] right after retirement as my knee has been a little bit so-so and that [skiing] has to wait,” the former world No 1 said. “As time goes by I will be able to do more trips and we are always planning our vacations and I want them to be really fun.
They can become a little bit more creative. I would love to take my kids to Africa whereas before vacations always had to be relaxing because my life on the road was so busy, but now our vacations can be a bit more adventurous”.
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