World number two Roger Federer says he is glad to be back playing competitive tennis and is hopeful of enjoying a long run at the Stuttgart Open this week.
Federer made a terrific start to 2018 with victory at the Australian Open – his sixth triumph Down Under – before landing the Rotterdam Open for the third time in February.
The Swiss legend suffered a shock first-round exit to Australian youngster Thanasi Kokkinakis at the Miami Open in March and that was the last time the 36-year-old was in competitive action.
For the second straight year, the 20-time Grand Slam champion decided to skip the entire clay-court season and his three-month absence from the ATP Tour has seen him usurped at the top of the world rankings by Rafael Nadal.
The Spaniard won the French Open for a record 11th time, beating Austrian Dominic Thiem in straight sets in the final, although he has cast doubts over his participation at Wimbledon this July.
Federer can move back to number one if he reaches the Stuttgart Open final and insists he feels positive ahead of the tournament at Tennis Club Weissenhof.
“Unfortunately, it didn’t go so well here last year, but this year, as I am feeling so good about my game already so early in the season on the grass, I am very hopeful that I can go deep this week,” he told Sky Sports.
Federer, who lost in the first round last year, takes on German serve-and-volleyer Mischa Zverev in the first round on Wednesday and the Swiss is the firm 1.11 favourite to win whilst his opponent is priced at 5.50.