Roger Federer returned to action after a three-month hiatus at the Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart on Wednesday with a three set win over Mischa Zverev.

The Swiss tennis legend took a break from the game after his shock second-round loss to Thanasi Kokkinakis at the Miami Open in March. For the second consecutive season, he decided to skip the entirety of the clay season including the French Open.

Federer made it clear when he returned from a long-term injury absence at the start of the 2017 season that he will play a limited schedule as fitness was his main priority rather than chasing titles and ranking.

The 37-year-old has played some of his best tennis in the last two seasons, winning nine titles in the last 16 months, which include three Grand Slam titles – the Wimbledon in 2017 and the Australian Open in 2017-18.

Federer became the oldest world number one in February this year but conceded it to Rafael Nadal a few weeks later. The Swiss ace has given no indication about his plans to call it a day, and admitted during an interview ahead of the Mercedes Cup that it will be funny when he does retire.

Roger Federer Roger Federer returned to action at the Mercedes Cup on Wednesday after a three month break. In this picture, Federer of Switzerland celebrates during his match against Mischa Zverev during day 3 of the Mercedes Cup at Tennisclub Weissenhof in Stuttgart, Germany, June 13, 2018. Photo: Alex Grimm/Getty Images For Wilson Sporting Goods

The 20-time men’s singles Grand Slam champion also revealed what motivates him to continue playing at the highest level and he made it clear that apart from the joy of playing the game, world records do matter to him.

“The most important thing, first of all, is the joy of the game. The feeling of winning, to hear the audience and to give them pleasure,” Federer said, as quoted by the Express. “And to prove to myself and my team that I can win another tournament or defend a title.”

Federer can take over the top slot in the ATP men’s singles ranking from Nadal if he makes it to the final in Stuttgart, and he is keen to do that. He will break his own record of being the oldest world number in ATP history by a few months.

Despite not talking about hanging up his racket anytime soon, the Swiss maestro is aware that the “end is closer than before." However, he admits that it will be funny when he eventually stops playing but is confident that it will work.

“Of course, records. Of course, it would be nice to become number one again and turn this record upwards,” the eight-time Wimbledon winner said. 

“But of course, the end is closer than ever before. But I also do not know when it's over,” he added talking about retirement. “It will be very interesting and funny after that. Especially with the kids. It will, of course, be more serious with the school.”

“I’m curious how it will be. But I am also convinced that the leap into the future will work.”