Between 2009-12, Roger Federer was among the players to beat in Caja Magica in Madrid, winning two titles and playing in another final and the semi-final. The Swiss had to end a good run in 2013, though, dethroned by Kei Nishikori in the third round after the Japanese scored a 6-4, 1-6, 6-2 triumph in an hour and 35 minutes.
It was their second meeting and the first victory for Kei who left the second set behind him and started all over in the decider, crossing the finish line first despite winning seven points less than Roger. The Swiss played better on both the first and second serve but it wasn't enough to carry him home, wasting five out of seven break chances and suffering three breaks to propel the rival over the top and lose a chance to fight for another crown in Madrid after conquering it on blue clay a year ago.
Federer had more winners but also more forced mistakes, with around the same number of unforced errors on their tallies. They were neck and neck in the more extended rallies, with Roger forging the advantage in the shortest range up to four strokes, although it wasn't enough to secure the win for him.
The Swiss held at love in games one and three but Kei was there to fight, firing a forehand winner at 2-2 to grab a break and move in front. The Japanese confirmed the advantage with another forehand winner, holding at 15 in game ten to take the opener 6-4 in half an hour.
Kei saved two break chances in the second game of the second set with winners, with Federer converting the fourth one in game four to open the lead and moving 4-1 in front after two winners on own serve at deuce. With the momentum on his side, Federer grabbed another break and closed the set with four winners in game seven, gaining boost ahead of the decider.
There, Nishikori secured a break in the fourth game when Federer landed a forehand wide, forcing an error from Roger to open a 4-1 gap and holding at love in game seven to remain in front. Serving to stay in the match, Federer got broken at 15 a few minutes later, pushing his opponent into the quarters and failing to reach at least the last four in Madrid for the first time since the event moved to clay in Caja Magica.