Roger Federer made a surprise decision to play at the Rotterdam Open after initially indicating that the earliest he would return following his triumph at the 2018 Australian Open in January was at the Dubai Tennis Championships beginning on 26 February.

The Swiss ace indicated that it was as much as sentimental decision as a professional one owing to his connection with the tournament in Rotterdam, which he has won on two occasions in 2005 and 2012. The 36-year-old can become the world number one if he makes it to the semi-finals in the Netherlands.

Tournament director Richard Krajicek was delighted to welcome Federer to an already impressive roster comprising of Alexander Zverev, Grigor Dimitrov and defending champion Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, but revealed that the 20-time men's singles Grand Slam's winner was not an impulsive one, but one that was finalised after five days of talks.

Federer had a relatively easy – in terms of physical strain – Australian Open after having reached the final without dropping a single set, it was only in the final that he was taken the distance by Marin Cilic. Krajicek revealed that his lack of physical strain in Melbourne was one of the reasons he made the decision to play at the Rotterdam Open which begins on 12 February.

"We had been talking for for five days, but Federer first wanted to train for three days and on Wednesday evening I would have contact with his manager (Tony Godsick)," Krajicek said, as quoted by the Express.

"In the evening I picked up a call from him and said: 'Gosh, how did the training go? He would approach him and at a quarter past six he said he would come.

"He emailed me a few hours after the final of the Australian Open that Federer might want to play [because] he had a fairly easy tournament and came fresh from Australia," the Rotterdam tournament director explained.

"Sometimes you have nice moments and sometimes you have some disappointments but as tournament director, this is a victory."

Roger Federer
Roger Federer with his coaching staff and agent Tony Godsick (back row: right) after winning the 2018 Australian Open Getty