London – Andy Murray couldn't treat the home crowd to one final highlight to cap off a year already filled with milestones for British tennis.
But losing to Roger Federer in the semifinals of the season-ending ATP finals on Sunday isn't likely to take the shine off his previous accomplishments in 2012 - reaching the Wimbledon final, winning gold at the Olympics and then ending a 76-year wait for a British men's Grand Slam champion at the U.S. Open.
“I would have liked to have finished, obviously, with a win,” Murray said. “But that didn't happen. But for me, it's been the best year of my career by a mile.”
And the kind of year frustrated British tennis fans had waited decades for - even though the ultimate prize of a Wimbledon title still eluded Murray.
In a two month-span, Murray became the first British man since 1938 to even reach the Wimbledon final before losing to Federer, then won the country's first Olympic men's singles gold in 104
years on the same Centre Court - again against Federer - before beating Novak Djokovic in five sets in the final at Flushing Meadows.
So he's not going into the offseason feeling too disappointed, despite being up an early break before losing 7-6 (5), 6-2 to Federer on Sunday at the O2 Arena.
“Why I would look back on that negatively now would be silly, because I've achieved things I've never achieved before,” Murray said. “If you told me last year I'd be sitting in this position with the results I had last year, I would have agreed and signed up for that straight away.”
Federer is the two-time defending champion at the ATP finals - and perhaps the only player who can rival Murray for popularity at the O2 Arena. There were plenty of Swiss fans among the boisterous crowd, and even many of the British supporters clapped loudly for Federer after points.
“It was the third time for us this year in London so that makes it extra special,” Federer said. “I think the crowd was electric.”
Many have credited former No. 1 Ivan Lendl with helping Murray finally end Britain's Grand Slam drought after becoming his coach and working on his mental toughness and tactics.
Murray said hiring Lendl was one of the best decisions of his career.
“I think it was a step that I needed to take, and was very important to me and helped me get over that final hurdle,” he said. “I'm happy with the year and I'll work really hard in December to get better.”
Now he'll get a few weeks rest before starting to prepare for next season, which he'll begin at an exhibition tournament in Abu Dhabi in the last week of December.
And for the first time in four years, he'll get to celebrate Christmas in Britain. The ATP has extended the offseason by two weeks this year after complaints from players about the quick turnaround, meaning Murray and his rivals will have more time to relax before starting preparations for the Australian Open.
“(That) means I can take a bit of time off now and then train and then come home over the holiday period, over Christmas time, which I haven't done the last three years,” Murray said.
The 2013 Wimbledon title is probably high on his wish list. – Sapa-AP