Roger Federer makes his return to action in Stuttgart on Wednesday, insisting he will play a full schedule across the second half of the year.
The Swiss great has enjoyed a stunning year so far, beginning with an 18th Grand Slam title by winning the Australian Open in February, and his latest comments will whet the appetite ahead of Wimbledon.
Federer followed his success in Australia by claiming the Indian Wells and Miami Masters titles before taking the clay season off, but with the red-dirt campaign now over the 35-year-old has set his sights on grass and hard-court glory.
“There are no more breaks now, I’ve had enough breaks,” Federer told the ATP’s official website.
“I’m a practice world champion now and that’s not who I want to be. I want to be a champ on the match courts.
“So I’m going to be playing a regular schedule for the second part of the season… and the beginning is at the Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart.”
Federer will face Pierre-Hugues Herbert or Tommy Haas in Stuttgart and will then turn his attention to Halle – which you can see live on Sky Sports – where he is a five-time champion.
Nadal’s clay-court domination culminated in a tenth French Open crown and now, following a 10-week lay-off, all eyes will be on Federer in Germany over the next fortnight as he battles it out for top honours once again.
“I was terribly surprised to win the Australian Open and to back it up and win the sunshine double in Indian Wells and Miami was a complete surprise to me,” said Federer.
“I think Rafa winning the French Open is less of a surprise because he’d done it nine times before. I was hoping he was going to dominate the clay-court season like the olden days.
“It maybe had something to do with Murray having a bit of a letdown after his great finish to last year and Novak not playing his absolute best. We were able to take advantage of the fact that we were in great shape and came refreshed into the season after our injuries at the end of last year.”
The Rafa-Roger rivalry has been renewed this year and it’s Federer who has the upper hand, winning all three of their high profile encounters, including the Melbourne and Miami finals.
But Nadal’s form over the last few months and Federer’s break from the game mean it’s the Spaniard who could return to the very top of the rankings.
Nadal is second in the world rankings behind Andy Murray and leads Federer in the Race to London standings. With Novak Djokovic searching for his best tennis and Murray returning to form and fitness, it promises to be a thrilling few months.
“Obviously Rafa is in great position to finish World No. 1,” Federer added.
“For him it’s going to be all about staying injury free, For me it’s about getting back to winning ways, where I left off in Miami.”
“It’s going to be an epic finish to the end of the season. Quite exciting actually for the ATP Tour.”
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