If Federer gets back to the top, the gap of five years and 106 days will be the longest between stints at number one in men's history.
Federer also gave some insight into his plans for the spring claycourt season, which he skipped completely previous year on the way to winning his eighth Wimbledon title.
"I'm happy I'm here, healthy and eager to play", he added. Also because the man himself has revealed that last month in Melbourne he didn't want to focus on the rankings as he knew Rotterdam followed next and he always could play in that to aim for the pole position. If seedings hold up, that means he would have to defeat compatriot and friend Stan Wawrinka in what would be a high-profile quarter-final. As a result, Federer had a much easier path to the title, beating Soderling in the final.
Out to stop Federer's progress will be second seed Grigor Dimitrov, victor of the London year-end showpiece in November and an Australian Open quarterfinalist.
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Gimelstob told the Tennis Channel: "Roger didn't want to think about the number one ranking until he won the Australian Open". In 2016, Novak and Andy were in their absolute prime, fighting for world No1.
The earnest Federer fan in each of us impatiently flutters around for the day this 36-year-old legend will take it into his own hands to rewrite history and become the oldest World Number 1! Just after ATP announced the new rankings, Federer requested a wildcard at late notice to take part in Rotterdam, starting on Wednesday.
Wawrinka, who underwent July knee surgery and missed the last six months of 2017, is pleased with his recovery progress and plans to continue his European February tour as he plays three events in a row.
Wawrinka was feeling more upbeat after his time on the indoor courts of Sofia, where he won two decent matches before losing in the semis.
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"I should be playing when I feel that way and not play when I don't feel at 100 per cent or don't feel ready to do it".
Swiss ace Roger Federer believes he has benefited from a lighter schedule and says players should not be afraid of taking breaks from tennis to improve their game. Play got underway on Monday, with third seed Alexander Zverev seeing off Spanish veteran David Ferrer 6-4, 6-3. He will next play either Joao Sousa or one more of the over-30s club, Andreas Seppi. The Czech won the 2014 title, and reached the 2015 final and two semis in 2012 and 2017.
Former Rotterdam victor Tomas Berdych put out Zverev's older brother Mischa 7-5, 6-3, while Spain's Feliciano Lopez eliminated 2016 champion Martin Klizan 6-3, 7-6 (7-4).
There is, it seems, no holding back these over-30s.
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