Roger Federer established himself as one of the world’s best players in 2002, winning three titles and cracking the top-10 following the first Masters 1000 crown in Hamburg. Unlike in 2001, the results at Majors were not there. However, the young Swiss did enough to secure a place at the first Masters Cup in Shanghai, where he lost to Lleyton Hewitt in the semi-final. After embracing 80 matches that year, Roger ran out of steam a bit and struggled with injuries in the new season’s opening weeks to raise concerns over his Australian Open participation.
Roger did not play at his best in the first two rounds in Doha, losing in the quarters to Jan-Michael Gambill and making a trip to Sydney, where he was the defending champion. The Swiss could not repeat that after suffering a 6-2, 6-3 loss to Franco Squillari in the first round in swift 54 minutes, creating only one break chance and losing serve four times to propel the rival through. After the match, Roger admitted he was not at 100% physically, dealing with leg injuries in those early days of the season but still hoping to compete at the upcoming Australian Open.
Roger Federer did not feel well at the beginning of the 2003 season due to injuries.
“Some losses hurt more than the others, that’s for sure. If you suffer a tight three-setter or five-setter defeat, it hurts more than losing in straight sets like today. Still, I do not think it changes much if it’s a pre-Major event. You use those small tournaments as preparation, but a loss is a loss. I feel disappointed, as I should have done a better job as the defending champion. I’m not so good physically; my legs have already been hurting since Doha, and I struggled on my serve today. The right groin bothers me a bit; I could not serve at 100%. I have not practiced so much between my loss in Doha and here.
I thought the pain went away, but it returned during the match. I have to make sure I get treatment now, hoping it will not bother me at the Australian Open. I would have pulled out if it was more serious; I can still walk, and as long as I can play a bit, I’ll go on the court. I’m not considering pulling out from the Australian Open. I do not see Squillari often; he usually plays on clay and me on an indoor court. He stands very far back and moves very well. His passing shots worked well today, and he came up with some good shots, making it tough for me,” Roger Federer said.