Roger Federer returns to action in Stuttgart on Wednesday hoping to chase down Rafael Nadal at the top of the rankings.
The Spaniard confirmed his world No.1 status on Sunday by winning his 11th French Open title, a feat Federer described as “unimaginable”.
Federer, who will be going for a ninth Wimbledon victory next month, was full of praise for Nadal’s utter domination at Roland Garros.
“You can use only superlatives to describe that,” added the Swiss, who plays Mischa Zverev in the first round in Stuttgart.
“To win one single tournament 11 times is unimaginable.
— ATP World Tour (@ATPWorldTour) June 11, 2018
“It looks so easy how he did it in Paris again. I didn’t see much from the finals because I arrived here, but I didn’t need to see it to know how strong he is and what amazing things he’s achieved.”
Federer chose to skip the claycourt season as he manages his schedule at the age of 36, and he last played in Miami three months ago.
A similar approach paid off in 2017 when he returned to win Wimbledon for the first time in six years – despite losing his return match against Tommy Haas in Stuttgart.
This time Federer has the ultimate goal of a 21st Grand Slam title in sight at Wimbledon, as well as overhauling the 100-point gap to Nadal at the top of the rankings.
“I think that’s a bit of extra motivation,” said Federer.
“But then again, having lost here last year in the first round, for me, it resets the goals as well, and just take it one at a time and don’t think too far ahead. Not that I did that last year, but on grass, margins are very slim.
“It’s not so simple, especially when you haven’t played in three months.”
Frenchman Lucas Pouille is the second seed in Stuttgart, with Tomas Berdych third and Nick Kyrgios fourth.
Federer could potentially meet Canadian teenager Denis Shapovalov for the first time in round two and Kyrgios in the semifinals, while former Wimbledon finalist Milos Raonic is among those in the bottom half of the draw.
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