Roger Federer of Switzerland. / AFP PHOTO / CHANDAN KHANNA
Roger Federer will aim to write more history at his home event as the world number two bids for an eighth title at the Swiss Indoors starting on Monday.
The 36-year-old Swiss tennis icon will again be the main attraction in his hometown as he attempts to overhaul Rafael Nadal for year-end ATP number one honours with three weeks remaining in the regular season.
The Spanish number one is missing after pulling out due to a knee problem sustained last weekend as he lost the Shanghai Masters final to longtime rival Federer.
Federer is closing in on Nadal, who last played the event in 2015, losing to Federer in the final at the St Jakobshalle.
The venue is the place where Federer got his start in the game, serving as a tournament ballboy more than two decades ago.
Federer will begin his campaign for a seventh title this season against wild card entry Francis Tiafoe after beating the teenaged American twice this season in Miami and the US Open.
The Swiss flew back from China this week and met his coaching team to plot strategy for the remainder of the season, making the final decision at the last moment to line up in Basel.
Federer will take to the court eager to close the points gap on Nadal.
“London is my priority now, I really want to win the World Tour Finals. Everything that comes now is a bonus after the year that I’ve had,” he said.
“Finishing as number one is a long shot, and I don’t think it will happen but if I play like this, who knows?”
Out to stop the momentum will be second seed Marin Cilic, the Basel holder who is fighting to earn his spot in the eight-man London finals next month.
Croatia’s summer Wimbledon finalist opens against Fernando Verdasco in the first round after going out to Nadal in the Shanghai semis.
Belgian David Goffin takes the third seeding, and starts with a qualifier while fourth seed Juan Martin del Potro plays Portugal’s Joao Sousa.
Jack Sock, seeded fifth, faces Briton Aljaz Bedene, with the American trying to recover form after four first-round losses since mid-August along with a defeat at the Laver Cup last month.
Spaniard Robert Bautista Agut, France’s Adrian Mannarino and German Mischa Zverev round out the remaining seeds.