The loss prompted an announcement that, for the second consecutive year, he would skip the clay-court season, including Roland Garros. It proved a masterstroke in 2017 as he went on to claim a record eighth Wimbledon title.
Federer will hand over the No. 1 ATP Ranking to Rafael Nadal on April 2, having spent 309 weeks at the top during his career. That in itself presents a new goal for the season ahead – to reclaim his place at the top.
“Yeah, I decided not to play,” Federer said of the upcoming clay-court season. “I didn't play great last week either, I felt, overall. Nothing new, in my opinion. I'm trying to figure things out, so... I have time now.
“I'm a positive thinker. I feel like every match is another opportunity. Especially after losing one, clearly I'm down right now. I'm disappointed. I'm frustrated a little bit that I couldn't find a way. It's unfortunate how it goes.
“It's pretty simple at the end of the day. You go back to the practice court or go on vacation, you really take a break, get away from it all. When you come back to the practice court to work, whatever it is, you do it at 100 per cent.”
The 21-year-old Australian's 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(4) victory drew high praise from the Swiss. This was an opponent Federer had spent time training with at his Dubai base, a player who had endured more than his share of injury hurdles in his young career.
“Look, he's a cool guy, a cool demeanour,” Federer said. “He's been to Dubai to practise with me a couple of times. I knew him very well. We have worked very hard together. I've always liked his game.
“I'm happy for him that on the big stage he was able to show it, centre court, Miami, people watching, beating me. It's a big result for him in his career. I hope it's going to launch him, really getting his ranking up.”
Not since 2014 when he lost the Monte-Carlo final (l. to Wawrinka) and first round in Rome (l. to Chardy) had Federer fallen in back-to-back matches. Coming off a narrow defeat in the BNP Paribas Open final (l. to Del Potro), a match in which three championship points went begging, Federer admitted that he struggled to sink his teeth into his opening match in Miami.
Still there was plenty to be upbeat about. His semi-final victory over Borna Coric in Indian Wells gave Federer his best start to a season (17-0).
“ I feel like I wasn't feeling good. The ball, I wasn't feeling. With my movement, things weren't absolutely working,” Federer said. “Look, it's disappointing. I don't know why I could never get to any level that I was happy with today. Sometimes you have these matches. Sometimes you find a way through. I just couldn't get it done today.
“He was just a bit better than me today. What exactly that was, I think you probably have to break it down to the key moments. He was a bit more relaxed. I was in search mode the whole match. I never got going.”
I think I'm mostly sad we won't get to see him before June now. But hopefully he comes back rejuvenated and rested and can do as well as he did at the beginning of the year.
Enjoy your break Roger, we're gonna miss you (and the sadness of your loss will take me some time to get over as well).