Roger Federer has confirmed he will play a complete schedule for the rest of the current tennis season, insisting there will be "no more breaks" as he attempts to continue his impressive 2017 renaissance and move clear of Pete Sampras by winning a record eighth career singles title at Wimbledon.
Having already withdrawn from the French Open due to a back injury, the former world number one was entirely absent from the second half of last year's campaign. He missed both the Olympic Games in Rio and the US Open, among other events, after announcing in July that he needed to undergo "more extensive rehabilitation" following knee surgery.
Returning to action in Australia in January, Federer proved that reports of his demise had been greatly exaggerated as he ended a five-year wait for his 18th major triumph by beating Rafael Nadal in a thrilling five-setter. One of the sport's greatest modern rivalries was successfully rekindled after Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic both flattered to deceive.
The Swiss later competed in Dubai and sealed a sunshine double in Miami and Indian Wells before announcing that he would be skipping Roland Garros for the second successive year and sitting out the entire clay-court season as part of an attempt to prolong his illustrious career. He claimed to need to recognise that "scheduling will be the key to my longevity".
With Nadal ending the clay portion of the season by thrashing Stan Wawrinka to claim his 10th French Open crown, Federer is now preparing to make his comeback as focus shifts towards the grass court swing. Speaking before his second appearance at the ATP World Tour 250 Mercedes Cup, he insisted he will be taking no more time off this year.
"There's no more breaks now," he told ATPWorldTour.com. "I've had enough breaks. I'm a practice world champion now and that's not who I want to be. I want to be a champ on the match courts. I'm going to be playing just a regular schedule for the second part of the season.
"This is what it's about now, playing matches. This is the beginning here at the Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart."
Top seed Federer, currently ranked at five in the world behind Murray, Nadal, Wawrinka and Djokovic, has a first-round bye in Stuttgart and will face Tommy Haas in round two on Wednesday (14 June) after the German veteran dispatched Pierre-Hugues Herbert in three sets. His half of the draw includes the likes of Tomas Berdych, Mischa Zverev, Gilles Simon and Bernard Tomic.