LONDON (Reuters) - Defeat by Alexander Zverev at the ATP Finals on Saturday left Roger Federer stuck on 99 career titles, but despite missing out on his century the Swiss said he was happy with his season.
Federer began the year by claiming a record-extending 20th Grand Slam title in Australia and while he won three other tournaments this year his season ended in frustrating fashion.
“I mean, (Pete) Sampras once upon a time said, if you win a slam, it’s a good season,” the 37-year-old told reporters after his 7-5 7-6(5) loss to the young German at the O2 Arena.
“The second half of the season could have been better maybe. I’m happy I gave myself opportunities again in that second half of the season. I maybe lost a couple too many close matches that could have changed things around for me a little bit.”
Federer was referring to his Wimbledon quarter-final defeat by Kevin Anderson when he led by two sets and had a match point.
“I’m a little bit disappointed there because I believe I was close. Being close makes me believe I can keep going, I can win again. That’s uplifting in some ways,” he said.
“Overall I’m happy how the season went. There’s many positives, to be quite honest. So I’m excited for next season.”
That will be good news for the Federer fans who dread the day he decides to hang up his racket.
Federer said he would sit down with his coaching team and come up with a schedule for 2019 and had not ruled out returning to the European claycourt swing he sat out this year.
“Definitely the plan is to play again next year, and come up with a good schedule that suits my family, suits (my wife) Mirka,” he said. “That’s why it’s good that we have time now.
“Looking forward to that process. I like taking decisions, so it’s all good.
“I must tell you I’m very proud that at 37 I’m still so competitive and so happy playing tennis. From that standpoint, as disappointed as I might be about this match, if I take a step back, I’m actually very happy about the season.”
In February, Federer added another record to his vast collection when he became the ATP’s oldest world number one, returning to the top for the first time since November 2012.
“It’s been an historic season in some ways,” he said. “Got back to world number one. That was a huge moment in my life, in my career because I never thought I would get there again.”
Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Toby Davis