Federer counts on smart scheduling
Roger Federer returns to tennis this week as he hopes to defend his title at the Dubai Open.
The Swiss national has made strategic scheduling plans to ensure that his 2013 season - and beyond - continue to be as productive as possible in the pressure-cooker world of the ATP.
Federer, the world No 2, took a week off after an unexpected quarterfinal loss in Rotterdam, spending a few days in South Africa at some of the children's projects funded by his charity foundation before flying to his base in Dubai.
But the emphasis is now totally on tennis as he challenges in a field headed by Novak Djokovic.
The 31-year-old Federer is playing Dubai, to be followed by the first Masters 1000 of the season in Indian Wells before skipping the Miami tournament where he first competed in 1999.
By skipping Miami and not playing again until the Madrid Masters in early May - which he also won in 2012 - Federer is hoping to ensure that he gets a long block of training to prepare for the French Open and Wimbledon to follow.
"Ï want to have four or five weeks of training," the 17-time Grand Slam winner said on Sunday prior to a Monday start against Tunisian wild card Malek Jaziri. "Last season was tricky, since I had to play so many weeks due to the Olympic Games.
"You didn't want to come into the summer without momentum. But this season is not the same. I want a good preparation for the clay season and Wimbledon. I thought that missing Miami might be a good opportunity to prepare really well for Paris."
Federer said that setting himself up for the campaign will also pave the way for 2014, with his plans to stay on in tennis flexible and his goal to keep playing at a high level for as many more years as possible.
And returning to No 1 on the ATP tour is certainly not out of the question for the player who stands just behind Djokovic in the points table.
"No 1 is absolutely realistic," Federer said. "But I would have to play really great and win some big titles. I also need to take enough time off.
"This gives me (scheduling) options for 2014, which I almost didn't have this year after such a busy 2012. If things fall into place, No 1 could be possible. It also depends on how the others play, what new generation comes up and a lot of things.
"My schedule is set, but it's not written in stone. If something has to change, it can pretty quickly."
The Swiss said that despite playing a 130th-ranked opponent in the opening round, it was not a contest he could take for granted.
"I've got to ask around to see how he plays, have my coach scout him a bit. I have to be ready for this match."