New York - Andy Murray may have captured the US Open and Olympic titles, but he insisted Tuesday that Roger Federer and vanquished New York rival Novak Djokovic remain the standout players of 2012.
The 25-year-old Murray defeated world number two and defending champion Djokovic 7-6 (12/10), 7-5, 2-6, 3-6, 6-2 in an epic US Open final to become his nation's first men's major winner since Fred Perry in 1936.
Twenty-nine of the previous 30 majors had been won by either Federer, Djokovic or Rafael Nadal - the three men who also divided up the year's other three Grand Slam titles between them.
“I don't think I have had the best year on the tour, no. I think the last few months have been great for me, but there is more to the tennis tour than just the Grand Slams,” said Murray, who was also Britain's first Wimbledon finalist since Bunny Austin in 1938.
“Novak has played great tennis in most of the Masters Series, as well. Roger has got himself back to No. 1. I think it is important to remember the tennis season starts in January, finishes in November.
“There are four Slams, but there are also many other tournaments to get to No.1 in the world. I think if you're No.1 you deserve to be the player of the year. I would say Novak or Roger would be the best players this year.”
Federer won a 17th Grand Slam title this summer with a seventh Wimbledon to match the mark of Pete Sampras.
Djokovic won the Australian Open and claimed the US Open Series title awarded to the player with the best hardcourt record in the run-up to the season's final Grand Slam event in New York.
Nadal, absent from the US Open through injury, blazed through the claycourt season before claiming a record seventh French Open in June.
Murray said that he was happy to keep measuring himself against his three greatest rivals, despite many in the sport sympathising with his struggles to win a major in such a golden era.
“Playing against these guys makes you much better. When you see physically how strong someone like Rafa is, then that drives you. You see also how hard he works,” explained Murray.
“That makes you realize what you have to do nowadays to get to the top of the game and to compete with those guys. I obviously played Roger many times, as well.
“Just the way that he plays, the consistency that he's shown over the last seven, eight, nine, 10 years, I think it's going to be tough to see that again.
“Novak, the last few years, you see the way he moves around the court. He took things on a hard court to a new level.
“I'm very happy to be part of this era in tennis. I think everyone would agree it's one of the best ever. I think playing against them has made me improve so much. I always said that maybe if I played another era maybe I would have won more, but I wouldn't have been as good a tennis player.”