Roger Federer on Major losses: ‘They hurt a lot, and it’s good to avoid them’

With 369 Major wins, Roger Federer still stands above Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. The Swiss claimed the first out of 20 Major crowns at Wimbledon 2003 and has stayed competitive for two decades on the biggest stage until those knee issues. Federer was among the players to beat at the Australian Open 2004, traveling to Melbourne with no coach but still eager to make a deep run. The Swiss defeated Alex Bogomolov Jr., Jeff Morrison and Todd Reid in the opening three rounds to march into the last 16. He faced Lleyton Hewitt for the tenth time in the fourth round, hoping to score the third triumph over the Aussie. In the 2003 Davis Cup semi-final, Lleyton came from two sets to love down against Roger at the same stadium, looking to repeat that performance and remain on the title course.

Instead of that, Federer scored a 4-6, 6-3, 6-0, 6-4 victory in two hours and 18 minutes, achieving the best result down under and moving into the first quarter-final. Roger erased six out of seven break chances to keep the pressure on the other side and had the upper hand from set number two to cross the finish line first. Battling for the semi-final, Federer faced another player from his generation who ousted him in a thriller in Melbourne a year ago, David Nalbandian. Suffering two Major defeats against the Argentine in 2003, Roger was eager to avoid another and scored a 7-5, 6-4, 5-7, 6-3 victory in two hours and 41 minutes for the second semi-final at Majors. Federer won only six points more than David, firing 20 aces and defending eight out of 11 break chances. Nalbandian gave his best to stay in touch, suffering five breaks from Federer’s 12 opportunities, enough to propel the Swiss over the top.

Roger Federer advanced to his first Australian Open semi-final in 2004.

Federer saved a break point with a booming serve at 5-5 in the opener, gathering momentum and stealing David’s serve in the next one to claim it 7-5. The Argentine led 4-3 with a break in set number two before dropping three straight games and hand it to Federer and drift further away from the finish line. Losing ground in the closing stages of the opening two sets, Nalbandian fixed that in the third after stealing Roger’s serve at 5-5 and clinching it with a smash winner for 7-5, looking much better on the court now. Starting all over, Roger raced into a 3-0 lead in set number four and sealed the deal with a service winner at 5-3 for the first Melbourne semi-final. 

“I made many unforced errors at the beginning, as I could not find the rhythm. I took more chances than David; my game is based on the attack. There would always be unforced errors when you played like that, but I probably made too many. David is one of the players who will always draw mistakes from you. We had already played before, and I knew there was nothing to worry about, especially if I’m in front. It’s nice to beat him at a Major; those losses hurt twice. It’s my second Major semi-final, and I’m thrilled,” Roger Federer said.