ROTTERDAM (NETHERLANDS): Stan Wawrinka is not considering his possible clash with Roger Federer at the Rotterdam World Tennis event as a dramatic checkpoint as the Swiss continues his knee surgery recovery.
"Of course, playing Roger is something special," three-time Grand Slam winner Wawrinka said on Monday in the Dutch port city as the fifth seed prepared to face an unknown first-round opponent in Dutch wildcard Tallon Griekspoor.
Should Wawrinka and Federer reach the quarter-finals this week, a Federer win into the semis would send the 20-time Grand Slam champion to the top of the ATP rankings next Monday.
"Becoming number one again would be special for Roger, like everything he's done in the past," Wawrinka said. "He's completely amazing.
"It would be really special to see him back at number one."
But that goal is not of concern to Wawrinka: "The quarter-finals might be an important match, but it's more important for me to focus on my first round."
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.
After winning a round at the Australian Open, he then returned to battle last week in Sofia, reaching the semi-finals before losing to eventual champion, qualifier Mirza Basic.
Wawrinka is taking his recovery slow and steady.
"A comeback takes time for sure, it was a big surgery, it takes months and months.
"So far I'm happy, I'm doing everything well, practising, playing matches, practising again.
"I'm not at my top level, I need time for that. But I'm happy to be here, I'm playing three weeks in a row for the first time in six months.
"I want to be ready for this event.
"You always want to be better and better, but there is no need to rush. The most important thing for me is the next few years, not the next few weeks.
"I don't compare my self with amazing players like Roger - it's most important for me to do the right thing for my career."