Roger Federer is shown here a week before playing his first ATP final, in February 2000. (Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Fourteen years ago today, a teenage wild card named Roger Federer made his first ATP final. Across the net at the 2000 Marseille Open was friend Marc Rosset, the first all-Swiss singles final in tour history.
Federer is now a 17-time Grand Slam champion, and countryman Stanislas Wawrinka won the Australian Open last month for his first major title. Federer joined Wawrinka in the semifinals in Melbourne, a milestone for Switzerland at a Slam.
You've come a long way, Switzerland.
Federer was an 18-year-old ranked No. 67 when he defeated No. 93 Antony Dupuis, No. 41 Thomas Johansson, No. 69 Ivan Ljubicic and the defending champion, No. 38 Fabrice Santoro, to reach the Marseille final.
"I'm already nervous at the prospect of playing in my first final," Federer said after beating Santoro. "I set myself the target this year of winning a tournament and this is a good opportunity."
Rosset was a former world No. 9 who entered the match ranked No. 77. He had won 13 career titles but only two over the previous three years.
"He's a young kid still wet behind the ears and I'd like to show him I'm still around,'' Rosset said, according to The Associated Press.
Rosset did just that: He won 2-6, 6-3, 7-6 (5), though Federer impressed by saving three match points and rallying from 2-5 down in the third-set tiebreaker to 5-5.
"Roger will win other titles," Rosset said. "He shouldn't worry about today. It all swung on so little in that breaker. It's just great for me to have won the first Swiss final. And I'm happy this Marseille tournament has shown that Swiss tennis is no longer just Marc Rosset but also Roger Federer."
Federer made a second final in 2000, at the Swiss Indoors in his hometown of Basel, but lost to No. 6 Thomas Enqvist 6-2, 4-6, 7-6 (4), 1-6, 6-1. He finished the season at No. 29, and one month into the 2001 season he won the Milan Indoors for his first title.
"I would say my career starts now," Federer said after his breakthrough in Italy.
Since that day in Marseille, Federer has advanced to 113 more finals and won 77. Only Jimmy Connors and Ivan Lendl have made more finals and won more titles in the Open Era.
Federer was reminded of the anniversary of his first final and took a walk down memory lane on Twitter:
This post has been updated.
(H/T: Randy Walker)