SHANGHAI: Roger Federer said he was glad to bring down the curtain on a difficult season and hoped to bounce back for a tilt at the Grand Slam record next year.
The defending champion battled a back injury as he went down in three sets to Britain's Andy Murray, ending his campaign for a fifth Masters Cup title at the group stage.
The 27-year-old Swiss, who also lost his five-year Wimbledon crown and the number one ranking this year, looked ahead to next season when he is chasing Pete Sampras's record of 14 major titles.
"It's been a good year, you know. But tough to start off with. Tough to end," he said.
"So obviously a little bit of mixed feelings. But I think it gives me the opportunity to start over all new again next year."
Federer failed to reach the eight-man event's semi-finals for the first time in seven straight appearances, but he showed enough form -- and grit -- against Murray to suggest Sampras's mark is reachable.
The former number one started brilliantly before the back injury came into play, but still toughed it out saving seven match points in a thrilling last set.
"I don't quit once I step on court. Guess you got to drill me one in the eye, then maybe. But otherwise I don't quit," he said.
Federer, who was also hit by a stomach bug this week, hoped he could recover in time for January when he will target the magical 14th Grand Slam at the Australian Open.
"I'm happy the season is over. Hope I can recover from all of what happened this week because it was tough, so we'll see how I'll feel next year again," he said.
Murray, who had already qualified for the semi-finals, said the win would give him a significant mental boost as he goes in search of Britain's first Grand Slam title since the 1930s.
"Psychologically a win like that is going to be huge for me next time I play him, especially in big matches," Murray said.
"A win against him in a match like that is similar to winning the Masters Cup. He's one of the greatest players of all time, so it meant a lot for me to win that one."
He also suggested Federer was far from done despite enduring his toughest season since reaching the number one ranking in 2004.
"He's still playing great. I mean, he's number two in the world. Nadal's had one of the best years in tennis over the last 20 years and he's still not that far behind him," Murray said.
"He's maybe lost a few more matches than normal, lost to guys that he doesn't normally lose to. But it's not totally surprising. I mean, he's normally losing like seven matches a year, which is ridiculous."
Murray faces Nikolay Davydenko later while Novak Djokovic plays Gilles Simon in the semi-finals of the 4.45-million-dollar tournament.