Roger Federer insists his agonising Wimbledon final defeat against Novak Djokovic won't be his farewell to the All England Club.
Roger Federer of Switzerland waves while holding the runner-up's trophy after being defeated by Novak Djokovic of Serbia in their men's singles finals tennis match on Centre Court at Wimbledon. (Reuters Photo)
Federer's bid to win a record eighth Wimbledon men's singles title was thwarted by Djokovic's thrilling 6-7 (7/9), 6-4, 7-6 (7/4) 5-7, 6-4 victory on Sunday.
The 32-year-old would have become the oldest man to win Wimbledon in the Open Era if he had seen off the world number two, but instead his wait for a first Grand Slam title since his last Wimbledon triumph in 2012 goes on.
Inevitably, Federer is often dogged by questions about when he will retire as he enters the twilight of his career.
But the Swiss legend, speaking in an on-court interview after the match, made it clear he will back at Wimbledon next year.
"I felt the love out here, so thanks a lot. See you next year," he said to huge cheers from the packed crowd on Centre Court.
Although Federer has won only one Grand Slam in his last 18 attempts, he is convinced his dominant run to this final and his battling display against Djokovic proved he can still compete for major honours despite his advancing years.
Asked if he believed he would return to the Wimbledon final in future, the 17-time Grand Slam champion said: "You could have asked me exactly that question in 2003. You don't know.
"But I'm very happy to see that with feeling normal I can produce a performance like I did the last two weeks.
"That clearly makes me believe that this was just a stepping stone to many more great things in the future."
Federer admitted his main regret was not taking his handful of chances on Sunday to complete his fightback after saving a match point and forcing a final set from 5-2 down in the fourth.
"I don't feel I necessarily played my absolute very best because I couldn't break for over three sets. For me that was disappointing," said Federer who fired 29 aces and 75 winners.
"I couldn't figure out why I wasn't breaking Novak's serve or actually creating opportunities to put him under pressure.
"It was only in the fourth set when I was down a break that I started to understand more how to return him, which was a surprise for me because I've played him that many times.
"I thought the fifth set was even. I do believe I had my chance there when I had break point.
"But credit to him. Unfortunately at the very end he got me. It was a tough finish, but it was extremely close."
Awkward royal meeting
Federer was captured by television cameras wiping away a tear during the post-match ceremony and he revealed he had an awkward meeting with Prince William and his wife Catherine immediately after leaving the Centre Court.
The royal couple had clearly been backing Federer during the match and they were keen to console him, but the devastated Swiss was still coming to terms with the defeat when they met.
"Yeah, I did see them afterwards. I wasn't in a great state," Federer said.
"I was unbelievably sad at that moment just when I left the court, so it was a difficult moment for I think the three of us.
"But they were very sweet to comfort me and wish me well, that they enjoyed the match and all these things. We met previously, so that helped I think."
Given an hour or so to compose himself, Federer was more upbeat in his post-match press conference and he insisted the defeat won't pray on his mind for long.
"I already have seven (Wimbledon titles). It's not like I need another one. But it would have been awfully nice to have it," he said.
"I have good emotions even though it was a rough ending.
"I'm very happy to see that I can do it week for week, match for match. It's all right there."