After a couple of miserable months and the results not correlated with his ranking position, Roger Federer finally found the form in Vienna in October 2002 for the third title of the season and the fourth overall. Roger took down Jiri Novak 6-4, 6-1, 3-6, 6-4 in the title clash, saving seven out of ten break chances and stealing rival’s serve six times from 12 opportunities to secure a much-needed title. Novak managed to force many errors from the Swiss but Roger dominated with his serve and forehand to fire over 50 winners. The younger player performed better in the crucial moments to wrap up the encounter and avoid a decider. Federer had the advantage in the shortest and most extended exchanges, and he kicked off the clash in a more reliable fashion for an early lead. Roger broke Jiri in the sixth game after a solid forehand attack and fired a forehand winner in the next one to open a 5-2 lead.
In game eight, the Czech fended off two set points and broke back a few minutes later with a forehand winner to reduce the deficit to 5-4 and prolong the action. Jiri wasted a game point in the next game, and Roger found a way to score a break after Novak’s loose forehand and take the opener 6-4. Still, Novak was there to fight, converting the sixth break chance at the beginning of the second set before losing the lead in the next game when his backhand landed long. Federer placed a forehand down the line winner in the fourth game for another break of serve that sent him 3-1 up and repelled a break chance with an ace a few minutes later to increase the advantage. It was all about the Swiss in those moments, securing another break in game six thanks to a forehand down the line winner and closing the set with a solid hold that sent him two sets to love lead after 69 minutes.
Roger Federer won the best-of-five final in Vienna before competing in Madrid.
Novak raised his level in the third set, serving well and breaking Roger at 4-3 to grab the set on his serve when Federer netted an easy backhand. The Swiss kept his focus in set number four, dropping five points behind the initial shot and earning a break in the tenth game following a lucky net cord winner that carried him towards the fourth ATP title. With those points, Roger continued his charge through the rankings and returned to the top-10, where he would stay for the next 14 years! A couple of days later in Madrid, Roger defeated Marcelo Rios in the second round to extend the winning streak. The Swiss mentioned that Vienna final and said he does not understand why they have to play the best-of-five finals ahead of the more important Masters 1000 tournaments.
“It’s normal that I’m quite tired after Vienna. I do not understand why we have to play the best-of-five finals ahead of the Masters 1000 event; that’s not very smart. Luckily, I’m seeded in Madrid, and I had a bye and a chance to start the tournament on Wednesday. It would have been challenging for me if it had to be Tuesday because I would have had no time to practice at all. Maybe we should have the best-of-three finals before the Masters Series and Majors,” Roger Federer said.