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Federer eyes top spot return in Stuttgart

AFP  |  Stuttgart (Germany) 

said today his motivation is sky-high as he bids for a possible return to the number one ranking if he reaches the final at Cup.

The 36-year-old Swiss, second in the ATP standings behind 11-time champion Rafael Nadal, has it all to play for this week at the hilltop Weissenhof club, where he lost a year ago in the first round to longtime friend and rival

After sitting out the clay season to fully rest and prepare for the grass and last playing match in on March 24, the 20-time grand slam winner is quietly confident that all is falling into place as he mounts his quest for a ninth next month.

"There are a lot of things at stake," the Swiss, who enjoys a first round bye, said. "I expected Rafa to win the French -- not taking anything away from him.

"But that creates a situation I was expecting. I know I have to reach the final here to get back to No. 1, that's an extra motivation.

"But I'm taking one thing at a time and not looking too far ahead. Margins on the grass are slim, it's not so simple to win a Grand Slam, it's seven matches -- that's a lot of "

Federer is beginning his grass season in for the third consecutive year after reaching the 2016 semi-finals where he lost to

The icon of the sport leads the field, with Frenchman second and his opening opponent was determined in the first match of the week as German beat compatriot 6-4, 6-7 (5/7), 6-3.

is seeded third, ahead of Australian Nick Kyrgios, making a return to singles after elbow problems which have kept him off court since mid-April.

Federer attempted to calm weekend speculation that he is about to sign a lucrative clothing contract with Japan's after his 10-year pact with expired three months ago.

The Swiss said it's all still in the air and his management is dealing with several options in the negotiations, worth a reported 300-million-dollars from for a decade and extending into his eventual retirement.

"It's rumours, I haven't had a contract since March when it ran out. We're talking, we will see what happens.

"It's all part of the game I guess, an unfortunate part. This is an opportunity to see what's going on. I'll let you know, we'll see.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, June 11 2018. 20:45 IST