Federer will try to extend his career title win to 18 matches

Roger Federer set to play ‘special’ final match of career on Friday with Rafael Nadal’s return to action following back surgery

The Spaniard, a five-time champion, is set to play his first match of the year on Friday since undergoing back surgery in September

Federer will try to extend his career-capping 18th career title win

But he will likely not take part in the final

Nadal, who is playing despite being absent due to a left knee injury sustained on the clay at the Australian Open the previous week, will attempt to break Federer into the all-time record for career Grand Slam wins

Federer said: ‘It’s difficult to believe it’s over. It’s been three years ago that I was on the cusp of winning the Wimbledon title in an amazing way. Now I’ve had a back operation I don’t think it’s worth the risk.

‘But if I keep playing and I win matches it will be a big challenge for me. I can’t be angry because I think the sport is in my DNA. In my head I don’t want to stop playing and I can’t be sad because I think my life is still ahead of me.

‘I never really gave it much thought because there wasn’t really much to think about. If I had been the only one I would have gone through with it so I just decided to not over think it.’

Asked if he was thinking of retirement, he added: ‘No! I don’t want to think about that. I just want to play, compete and enjoy what I do. That’s why I love tennis: it’s full of ups and downs and it gives me something to look forward to the next day.

‘When you’re not training or playing you don’t have a lot of time to think about it. So if I don’t make the final I’ll still think about it, obviously, but I’ll just keep enjoying it. For me tennis is my whole life. It’s a very important part of my life.’

Federer was making his 100th ATP tour appearance, having won the title three times earlier this year.

Federer’s coach Ivan Lendl said: ‘He

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