Andy Roddick and Juan Carlos Ferrero met in the final of the 2003 US Open.
After a first-round loss at the French Open, Roddick made a coaching change that paid immediate dividends, bringing on Brad Gilbert, the former world No. 4 who helped guide Andre Agassi to the top of the men’s game. Roddick won the title on grass at Queen’s Club, then followed that up with his first semifinal showing at Wimbledon. When the tour turned to the summer hard-court stretch, the young American kept winning, capturing four titles in five tournaments, with his only loss coming in the semifinals in Washington. Compiling a mix of blowout wins and close escapes, Roddick’s brought a 22-1 record into the US Open to establish himself among the favorites for the title.
In New York, the fourth seed only dropped one set on his way to the semifinals. In the final four, he came back from a two-sets-to-love deficit against David Nalbandian to reach his first Grand Slam championship match. His final-round opponent would be Ferrero, the third seed who won his first major at the French Open earlier in the summer. On his way to the final, the Spaniard battled through multiple matches, including a four-set win against World No. 1 Agassi in the semifinals—a result that allowed him to overtake the American in the next rankings.
If Gilbert, Roddick’s coach, had been experiencing a sense of déjà vu throughout the summer, it would have been understandable. Back in 1995, Agassi—Gilbert’s charge at the time—entered the US Open on a four-tournament winning streak and proceeded to reach the final, only to see his run stopped by Pete Sampras. Here, Roddick fought off an early break point then cracked Ferrero’s serve to go up 3-1 and eventually take the opener 6-3.
In the second frame, the two players stayed even throughout, with the set to be determined by a tiebreaker. There, the two engaged in a back-and-forth affair through four of the first five points, with Roddick eventually going up 4-2. From there, the American clinched the next three points to take a two-sets-to-love lead. Serving down 3-4 in the third set, Ferrero double-faulted on break point and in Roddick’s next service game, the American hammered down three aces in a row, the last on match point, to clinch his first major championship.
Since the inception of the Masters series tournaments in 1990, Roddick became the first player to win in Canada, Cincinnati and at the US Open.
Ferrero was bidding to become the second Spaniard to win the men’s title in the Open Era after Manuel Orantes in 1975.
Roddick became the sixth American man in the Open Era to win in his first appearance in a US Open final, following Arthur Ashe, Stan Smith Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe and Sampras.