Roger Federer's grace in defeat against David Goffin at the ATP Finals in London proved yet again how great a champion the Swiss ace is.
Federer faded to a 2-6 6-3 6-4 semi-final loss to David Goffin at London's O2 Arena on Saturday.
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In bowing out of the tournament, the 19-time grand slam champion missed out on sealing a dream final against Grigor Dimitrov, who came from a set down to beat Jack Sock 4-6 6-0 6-3 in the other semi-final.
Federer was desperate to add another London title to his massive trophy cabinet and he would have been shattered to lose to Goffin but you wouldn't have known it.
Seconds after sending his return crashing into the net to hand the win to Goffin, the 36-year-old beamed a congratulatory smile the Belgian's way before greeting him at the next with a hug and a few kind words.
Federer shook off the disappointment to reflect on an otherwise wildly successful 2017 that yielded his 18th and 19th grand slam crowns among a tour-topping seven tournament triumphs.
At 36, he is the oldest year-end world No.2 in history despite returning to the court in January unsure what the future held after missing the last six months of 2016 to rehabilitate his surgically-repaired knee.
"Considering how last year went, this year was perfect. It's been an amazing year for me," Federer said.
"Been so happy that I was playing at this level from the beginning till basically the end, till today.
"So it's been great. Really enjoyed myself in the process."
The father of four will cherish some family time before building up for his Melbourne Park title defence at the Hopman Cup in Perth from December 30.
"I'm just looking forward to some time off now, away from the match court, away from the pressure, then hopefully play well in Australia," Federer said.
"I can't wait to play there again. I had the best time of my life this year, so can't wait to go back there.
"I'll probably take two weeks off, two weeks' vacation. I feel like it's what we always need at the end of the season, not just myself, but my wife as well, and my kids, too.
"We all need to spend some family time together. We love that. Most important time of our lives, to spend the time together like that.
"After that, I'll start the beginning of December my training again."
Federer showing grace as ever in defeat. Pic: Getty
Federer was the last of the so-called big five standing at the end of the year, with Nadal (knee) pulling out of the season-ending showpiece after losing to Goffin in his opening pool match.
His other chief rivals - Novak Djokovic (elbow), Andy Murray (hip) and Stan Wawrinka (knee) - all called an end to their seasons months ago, their bodies battered after years trying to keep pace with the great Swiss.
"I hope also Kei (Nishikori), Tomas (Berdych) and Milos (Raonic) all find their way back on tour and prefer to be in Australia because that would make it quite epic, a comeback for all the guys," Federer said.
"Then you mix them together with the new guys from the World Tour Finals here who have just come off a great year, obviously are confident, want to stay in the top 10, want to make the World Tour Finals again.
"They are sort of weaving their way in. Not so fast, guys, we also want to make it. You have the young guys coming through.
"It could be a very cool start to the year, which I'm really looking forward to."