Roger Federer earned his first Masters Cup berth in 2002, cracking the top-10 following the Masters 1000 crown in Hamburg in May and lifting the Vienna trophy in October. Roger delivered all three round-robin wins at the Masters Cup in Shanghai to advance into the semis, losing to world no. 1 Lleyton Hewitt and wrapping up the season with 80 encounters by his name. The young Swiss failed to recover and get back at 100% for the opening weeks of 2003, struggling with knee injuries and hurting the right groin in Doha during the quarter-final defeat to Jan-Michael Gambill. Moving to Sydney, where he won the title a year ago, Federer experienced the first-round exit.
The Swiss won only five games against a clay-courter Franco Squillari and finished his campaign in 54 minutes! After the match, Federer explained his problems and shared thoughts about the long season, especially for those who have to play the Masters Cup or the Davis Cup final in the closing weeks. Roger stated that the Australian Open probably comes way too early during the season, with only a couple of pre-tournament tests and challenges. Also, he mentioned the gap between Indian Wells and Wimbledon that has two Majors and five Masters 1000 events, describing it as the season’s challenging but lovely period.
Roger Federer talked about the extended season at the beginning of 2003.
“Every player has a different approach. Some of us work for the entire month, and some took a few weeks off. In my case, I had a short break after the Masters Cup, but I still think I got the most from the preparation period. Hopefully, it will pay off at the Australian Open if I play injury-free. After the Shanghai loss, I had 16 days off the court and four of five days around Christmas. In my opinion, the season is too long, especially if you reach the Masters Cup or play the Davis Cup final. The Australian Open is probably too early in the season, with not enough leading up tournaments for such a huge event.
There are also many notable tournaments in an almost back-to-back way. Between Indian Wells and Wimbledon, I only play Masters 1000 events and Majors, and that’s a tough schedule that I still fancy. That’s something one player can not change or decide; all of us should get together and talk about an issue like this. Still, it seems impossible because every player has different points. Some of them want more clay events, the other more weeks on grass; the same goes for the number of tournaments in the calendar. In the end, we are all egoists, all tennis players in one way. All we care about is ourselves because this is not a team sport, except for the Davis Cup; that’s why it is very tough to get together and make some decisions, even with your friends on the Tour,” Roger Federer said.