Stan Wawrinka has dropped the strongest hint yet that he is ready to tailor his playing schedule like fellow countryman Roger Federer, after spending six months out with a knee injury.
The 32-year-old is preparing to play his third tournament of the year at the Rotterdam Open after featuring in the Australian Open and the Sofia Open.
Wawrinka underwent surgery after being dumped out of the first round at Wimbledon last July and victory over Ricardas Berankis in Melbourne was his first appearance on court in over half a year.
Coming back from a knee problem of his own, Federer tailored his 2017 campaign to manage his fitness; missing the entire clay court season, including the French Open sandwiched between his two grand slam successes.
And though Wawrinka has not specified how he may adapt his season, the three-time grand slam champion has indicated he is considered taking the same measure – even if he does not regard Federer as the blueprint.
"A comeback takes time for sure, it was a big surgery, it takes months and months," he told reporters, according to AFP. "So far I'm happy, I'm doing everything well, practising, playing matches, practising again.
"I'm not at my top level, I need time for that. But I'm happy to be here, I'm playing three weeks in a row for the first time in six months. I want to be ready for this event.
"You always want to be better and better, but there is no need to rush. The most important thing for me is the next few years, not the next few weeks.
"I don't compare my self with amazing players like Roger – it's most important for me to do the right thing for my career."
Should Wawrinka progress as far as the quarter-finals in Rotterdam then he could come up against the evergreen Federer, who is chasing a return to world number one this week.
A semi-final finish will be good enough for the 20-time major winner to ascend to the summit of the ATP rankings, eclipsing Andre Agassi as the oldest man to do so.
But world number 13 Wawrinka – who begins his campaign against wild card Tallon Griekspoor on Tuesday (13 February) evening – is unwilling to be distracted by the prospect of a meeting with Federer.
"Becoming number one again would be special for Roger, like everything he's done in the past," Wawrinka add. "He's completely amazing.
"It would be really special to see him back at number one. The quarter-finals might be an important match, but it's more important for me to focus on my first round."