Roger Federer has made a surprise change to his 2018 schedule and decided to play the Rotterdam Open beginning 12 February after initially suggesting that the earliest he could potentially return to action was at the Dubai Tennis Championships later this month.

The Swiss ace accepted the wildcard to play the event in the Netherlands and has a chance to return to the top of the world rankings if he makes the semi-finals. The 36-year-old will become the oldest world number one eclipsing Andre Agassi's record, who was 33-years-old when he became the top ranked player in 2003.

Federer successfully defended his Australian Open crown in Melbourne in January to become a 20-time men's singles Grand Slam winner and Rafael Nadal's loss in the quarter-finals saw him close the gap in the ranking to just 155-points. A run to the semi-finals in Rotterdam will see him return to the top of the ATP rankings for the first time since 2012.

The Swiss tennis legend has won the Rotterdam event on two occasions in 2005 and 2012 and this will be his ninth appearance at the event.

"The tournament is special for me. I remember playing for the first time in 1999 as it was one of the first events where I got the chance to play at the highest level," Federer said, as quoted on the Swiss ace's official site.

"It feels good to join in the celebrations of the 45th edition," the 20-time Grand Slam champion added.

Tournament director Richard Krajicek was delighted with the news that Federer will add to an already strong line-up that includes Alexander Zverev, Grigor Dimitrov, Stan Wawrinka and defending champion Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

"After his fantastic result at the Australian Open, it is tremendous news that he will be joining us in Rotterdam. It is a crown to the celebration of the history of our tournament," Krajicek said, as quoted on Sky Sports.

Federer, if he reaches the semi-finals, can add to his record tally of 302 weeks as the world number one — a record he holds along with the most number of consecutive weeks as the world number one — 237 weeks.

Roger Federer
Roger Federer can become the world number one with a good run at the Rotterdam Open beginning 12 February Getty