Roger Federer says he would now rather be a contender at grand slams than battling Novak Djokovic and Rafa Nadal to be world number one.
The Swiss great has held back the clock in the twilight of his remarkable career and became the ATP’s oldest world number one last year a few weeks after clinching his sixth Australian Open aged 36.
Federer saw his bid for a seventh title at Melbourne Park crushed last month by up-and-coming Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas in the last 16 and having slipped to sixth in the rankings, says his priorities have shifted.
“For me the ranking, at 37 years old, is no longer really the priority,” he told journalists in Geneva.
“But the idea for me is to be in good health, to know that I can win tournaments, to know that I can beat (Djokovic and Nadal) and after that it is a pleasure.
“Even if my ranking goes down further, it’s not a problem for me. As long as I say I can win a Grand Slam as I did two years ago with a world ranking of 17, everything is in place.
“I prefer to be ranked 17th than third and not win a grand slam or tournament.”
Federer said he plans to play the Dubai Championships in February and masters events in Indian Wells and Miami in March before deciding which tournaments he will play in the lead-up to the French Open.
Speaking at a launch for the Laver Cup, he hoped compatriot Stan Wawrinka and world number one Djokovic would join him and Spaniard Nadal on the European team.
Sweden’s Bjorn Borg is captain of the Europe team at the event named after Australian great Rod Laver.
“I can’t wait. We talked about it in Melbourne, we talked about how excited he (Nadal) was and me too that we’re going to be on the same team again,” Federer said.