Roger Federer has reiterated that he will announce whether he will compete in this season's clay-court swing after next month's BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells.
The 36-year-old avoided playing on the dirt in 2017 to ensure he was fit for Wimbledon, missing the entire campaign including the French Open for a second consecutive year.
The decision paid dividends as he scooped his eighth title at the All England Club to move above William Renshaw and Pete Sampras as the most successful male singles player in the tournament's history.
Federer has been coy over whether he will repeat that decision this year but remains selective over his appearances having opted to skip this week's Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships to spend time with his family.
Having won the Rotterdam Open and become the oldest world number one in tennis history last month, Federer is due to return to action for the defence of the Sunshine Double which begins in Indian Wells, where he will decide over his plans for the rest of the season.
"I don't know, I will decide in April after Indian Wells," he told RMC Sport at the Laureus World Sports Awards. "I will see how I play and I feel. It's more than a decision, it's the decision of the year. It's a surface change and if I do it, it's because I am convinced of it. For the moment I focus on hard but honestly I hope to play."
The 2014 Davis Cup winner indicated earlier this week that he would wait until after the event in California to make the decision over his participation, which could see him skip three ATP 1000 events in Monte Carlo, Madrid and Rome before the second major of 2018 at Roland Garros.
Federer's resurgence came after he missed the second half of the 2016 season with a knee injury. In the 14 months since returning he has won three of the last five Grand Slams, taken his major tally to 20 and returned to the top of the ATP rankings.
But his enduring success and durability in his tender years is in stark contrast to his main rivals.
Novak Djokovic has played just one tournament – the Australian Open – in the last seven months and undergone elbow surgery; Rafael Nadal is currently nursing a hip problem which forced him to withdraw from the Mexican Open in Acapulco; while Andy Murray has not played since Wimbledon last year due to a hip issue of his own.
Murray's absence is of particular concern with the hip surgery he underwent at the start of the year, following months of unsuccessful rehabilitation, described as his "last resort", though the Briton is on course to start practicing at the end of March and is eyeing a competitive return at Queen's Club this summer.
But Federer has urged the three-time Grand Slam champion to be cautious over his return and only resume playing when he is fully fit.
"What I learned is just be patient when you are hurt, only come back when you are 100%, not 92%," he added, report Tennis World USA. "I've come to realise it is better to wait. If you are hurt or struggling in a tournament no one knows so that is ok, but if people know you have had a problem it is better to wait it out and train really hard to get back at 100%."