Federer began the year by attempting to defend his title at the Australian Open. He lost, however, in the semifinals to eventual champion Novak Djokovic 7–5, 6–3, 7–6(5). This ended his male record of ten consecutive Grand Slam finals.
Federer entered the Tennis Masters Cup as the top-seeded player after Nadal withdrew from the tournament. He drew Simon, Murray, and Roddick in the Red Group. In his opening match, Federer lost to Simon but kept his hopes alive by defeating Roddick's replacement, Stepanek, 7–6(4), 6–4 in his second match. He lost his third match to Murray who won the match 4–6, 7–6(3), 7–5. Federer had received medical treatment for back and hip problems in the third set but lost after saving seven match points. This was the first time that Federer had not advanced to the semi-final stage of the event. However, Federer still ended the year ranked World No. 2.