London – Roger Federer trained his sights next season after a disappointing defeat in the last four ATP Finals took its 2018 campaign to a premature halt.
The 7-5, 7-6 (7/5) loss to Alexander Zverev at the O2 Arena in London means that Federer must wait until 2019 for a chance in his 100th title – a year in which he will turn 38.
However, the Swiss was positive about his season and excited about returning to the court next year.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion was out of blocks in sensational style this season, defending his Australian Open title and at age 36 becoming the world's oldest number one in the 45-year history of the ATP ranking .
"(Pete) Sampras once said:" If you win a Slam, it's a good season, "he said.
He started the year with 17 career victories, winning in Melbourne and Rotterdam before losing to Juan Martin del Potro in the final in Indian Wells. Two other titles followed in Stuttgart and Basel.
But there were also big disappointments – at Wimbledon he lost to Kevin Anderson after leading for two sets and wasting a match point and set off early from the US Open.
"So I started very well.I played super good in Australia again.Then obviously I can not wait to go back there in a few months.The second half of the season could have been better, maybe.I also have high hopes of always doing well.
"I'm happy to have given me more chances in the second half of the season, maybe I've missed a few pairs of matches that could have changed things a bit for me, I do not know, Paris or Wimbledon, whatever happened.
Being around makes me believe that I can continue, I can win again.This is uplifting in some ways. "
The problem for Federer is that Novak Djokovic is back as the world number one after an elbow surgery and a period of indifferent form and is dominating the men's game again.
Rafael Nadal, despite his current problems with injuries, will be the favorite to win the 12th French Open.
And Zverev is leading the charge of the younger, desperate generation to replace the elderly guard who is reluctant to be changed.
Federer holds the most weeks record at number one (310), but now third in the world, he seems to have accepted that his days of domination are over.
"I'm very proud that at age 37 I'm still so competitive and so happy playing tennis," he said. "As disappointed as I can be in this match, if I take a step back, I'm very happy with the season.
"It has been a historic season in some respects.He returned to world number one.For me this was a great time in my life to be honest in my career because I never thought I would get there again.
"Here I am having a very good season physically, too, I have won another Slam … so, yes, you can see it as a very, very positive season."