Roger Federer's impressive hot streak suddenly came to an end on Wednesday night. Japanese No. 1 Kei Nishikori defeated Federer 3-6, 7-5, 6-4 to end the Swiss great's shot at a title in Miami.
The upset loss shouldn't be a huge concern to the former world No. 1.
He's been playing some of his best tennis since returning from an injury-plagued 2013 season. His recent surge still bodes well for the remainder of 2014.
After all, Federer's loss on Wednesday was partially due to a resilient Nishikori, who had Federer's number in the past. The last time these two met, Nishikori defeated Federer at the Madrid Masters in three sets last year.
Not shocked Nishikori beat Federer (done it before) but I am surprised he did it one day after marathon with Ferrer. Fitness WAY better now.— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) March 27, 2014
This was a difficult situation for Federer, as Nishikori told the ATP's official website that he was on point during the match:
Feeling good, of course, to beat Roger. I thought I really played well, especially in the third. I was hitting both deep and striking well. Everything was going well. There [were a] couple of tough moments, but I was fighting through and happy to win today.
Federer praised Nishikori and also addressed his shortcomings during the match in an interview on ATP's website:
I think Kei does really well controlling the ball. He has great technique, especially on the backhand, very simple, very short back swings, so he does a really nice job of having good timing. I predict he's going to be Top 10 in a short while.
I could never really get my service games going. On the return, as the match went on, I think it was that Kei started to serve a bit better, which made it more difficult.
It certainly wasn't an easy matchup for Federer. He faced a very good Nishikori at the wrong time. Despite the upset loss, the remainder of Federer's season is not in jeopardy.
Federer still has momentum—it's not as if he played poorly throughout the matchup:
Federer will remain resilient as always. He is still on a nice run—having reached the finals at Indian Wells, he has now reached at least one Masters final in each of the last 13 years. Federer has already recorded 22 ATP match wins this year—he didn't accomplish that feat until June in 2013.
During an interview with Greg Garber of ESPN.com, Federer said that he is still pleased with how this season started for him:
I mean, if I look at the big picture, since the beginning of the year, I'm very pleased with how I'm playing. So it's a good start to the season, no doubt. So I want to keep it up now for Geneva when I play next week, and then clearly we will shift over to the clay finally after a long stretch on the hard courts.
Federer is still in high spirits, and his play is still immensely improving. This isn't a step backward for him, and it should be expected that he will come out firing once again next week.