Wimbledon 2018: How men's tennis looked when Federer first triumphed

Roger Federer won his first Wimbledon title 15 years ago and the landscape of men's tennis looked markedly different.

Roger Federer with his first Wimbledon title.   -  Getty Images

When you look back at Roger Federer's first Wimbledon triumph in 2003, you could be forgiven for thinking the footage was from a week ago such is the ageless grace with which Federer has continued to compete deep into his thirties.

The Swiss has entrenched himself as a Wimbledon legend over the past 15 years, winning a record eight titles in front of an adoring Centre Court crowd.

READ: Can anyone dethrone Roger Federer at Wimbledon?

With Rafael Nadal's struggles on grass in recent times well documented, Novak Djokovic still working towards his best form and Andy Murray seemingly far from full sharpness after a long-term injury lay-off dating back to last year's Wimbledon, Federer is the favourite to defend his title.

Of course, the trio of Nadal, Djokovic and Murray have, alongside Federer, dominated the landscape of men's tennis for the best part of 10 years. However, the seeds at SW19 when Federer collected his first title looked markedly different.

We look at how the top 16 in 2003 fared.

TOP 16 SEEDS IN 2003:

1. Lleyton Hewitt
2. Andre Agassi
3. Juan Carlos Ferrero
4. Roger Federer
5. Andy Roddick 
6. David Nalbandian
7. Guillermo Coria
8.  Sjeng Schalken
9. Rainer Schuttler
10. Tim Henman
11. Jiri Novak
12. Paradorn Srichaphan
13. Sebastien Grosjean
14. Xavier Malisse
15. Arnaud Clement
16. Mikhail Youzhny


Federer had showcased his potential by beating fellow Wimbledon legend Pete Sampras in the last 16 in 2001, but he was defeated by Croatian qualifier Mario Ancic in round one 12 months later.

Instead, it was Lleyton Hewitt who celebrated his second Grand Slam title by beating David Nalbandian in the 2002 final, but the Australian suffered a shock first-round defeat to Ivo Karlovic a year later.

With the draw wide open, many would have fancied the great Andre Agassi – that year's Australian Open champion who had returned to world number one in 2003 – to triumph.

However, he lost a five-set thriller to Mark Philippoussis - the eventual runner-up - in round four.


Andy Roddick was another notable name in the top 16. The American enjoyed several enthralling battles with Federer in his career, and lost to the Swiss in straight sets in the semifinal in 2003. He would meet his nemesis in three Wimbledon finals, losing all of them.

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Tim Henman was the great British hope before a certain Mr. Murray appeared on the scene. Fans would gather in droves on 'Henman Hill', but had witnessed him suffer heartbreak in the semis in four of the previous five years. 

On this occasion, Henman made the last eight but, after another run to the quarters a year later, his career began to wane.


While many of the players seeded for the 2003 tournament are memorable names, some will have long since slipped the memories of all but the most ardent tennis fans.

Belgian Xavier Malisse, a winner of two career ATP Tour titles, enjoyed an unlikely semi-final run 12 months prior to Federer's win, but was toppled by French qualifier Cyril Saulnier in the first round in 2003.

Sjeng Schalken enjoyed a career-best year in 2003, winning two of his nine ATP titles and achieving a career-high ranking of 11th. The Dutchman's run to the quarter-finals was ended by, you guessed it, that man Federer.

Czech Jiri Novak reached the 2002 Australian Open semi-finals, but largely toiled in the slams – never going beyond round three at SW19. He was once ranked as high as fifth, though, and was a seven-time Tour titlist.

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