In his pre-tournament press conference in Rotterdam on Monday, Roger Federer admitted that the chance to be world no. 1 again for the first time since November 2012 played a huge role in his asking for a wildcard to play the tournament.
'I only ever said I would think about the ATP Rankings after the Australian Open was over,' Federer said. 'I did not expect to win the Australian Open again and by not winning the ATP Finals, I never thought it would happen again and it may be out of sight. I played at the Australian Open not thinking about the rankings, but I knew I had the flexibility in February over my calendar. After the Australian Open was over, I thought I’d love to play Rotterdam and give it a go. Our team is very excited, that I’m here and that I will give it a go. You have to do it, not because it’s the right thing to do, but you have to be here with all your heart and really go for it. Try my very best. Having the option of getting to no. 1 is highly motivating and very exciting, to say the least.'
Federer won three Slams in the last 12 months, which definitely overcame his expectations: 'If I would have won one Grand Slam I would be over the moon. In 2016, Novak [Djokovic] and Andy [Murray] were in their prime. Rafa was young enough to come back. I always believed I could do it once, [so] it's an incredible journey.'
He also spoke about the chances to see him play on clay again. He mentioned, 'The clay season is up in the air. If I’m playing a lot during this part of the season, it would be hard to play a robust clay season. It would be light (schedule) if I do play. We’ll see how it goes, I’m healthy and glad to be playing. I should be playing when I feel that way and not play when I don’t feel at 100% or don’t feel ready to do it. That’s the secret for me moving forward.'
Federer also spoke about Serena Williams, who made her return to the Tour in USA's Fed Cup tie against the Netherlands. 'She's done amazing things in the women's game. I always look up to other athletes who've been around a long time and achieved greatness. It's inspiring and Serena's part of that group for sure,' he stated.
Federer finally commented on Felix Auger Aliassime's potential. The 17-year-old will make his ATP debut on Tuesday in Rotterdam against Filip Krajinovic: 'I think he is going to be a very good player. Unfortunately he got hurt during the time that he was in Dubai with me in December. I just saw him this morning for the first time again after I wished him a good trip back home and good rehab. It’s nice to see him smiling and happy again. I didn’t worry for him because he seemed very upbeat, positive and still in a moment that was actually pretty hard for him, being hurt going into Australia. I think he is going to be great player. How good remains to be seen. I don’t want to put too much pressure on him to be honest.'