California: Known for his classic groundstrokes and graceful movement around the court, Roger Federer gave intriguing insight at the BNP Paribas Open on Sunday on how carefully he has mapped out his career.
Just over a decade ago, the Swiss master became world number one for the first time but, instead of deciding to "chase money or more tournament victories", he and his team opted to focus on extending his competitive career for as long as possible.
"The idea was always (about) trying to be around the game for a long time," world number two Federer told reporters after cruising into the third round of the BNP Paribas Open with a commanding 6-4 6-2 victory over Argentina`s Diego Schwartzman.
"And for that in 2004, when I became world No. 1, I took a decision with my fitness coach at the time that we`re going to plan long-term. Whatever we will do, we will plan long-term.
"Sure, we can chase money or more tournament victories. We can play more frequently, train harder, whatever we will do. But we decided we will try to stay around 20 tournaments during the year, which is a lower number."
During the 1990s, many players competed in at least 30 tournaments each year and Federer cited the example of Russia`s former world number one Yevgeny Kafelnikov, who clinched the 1996 French Open and the 1999 Australian Open.
"If you look back, Kafelnikov used to play 30 or 32 events back in the day," said the 33-year-old Swiss, a 17-times grand slam singles champion. "I said that`s not something I really want to do.
"If I play, I want to play good. I want to play injury-free if possible, but of course all the top guys, we also play hurt.
"But the goal was to stay around for a long time. I did get inspired by seeing 32-year-olds, 35-year-olds, and actually I felt they almost did me a favour that I could play against them."
Federer, who believes he is playing some of the best tennis of his career at the age of 33, says he continues to learn about the game and is proud to be able to inspire younger players through his own example.
"My best memories are playing against the guys I used to see on TV," he said. "It`s not like I`m doing the young guys now a favour to still be around, but I think down the stretch it might be appreciated (by them).
"For me, it was important trying to stay around for as long as possible because I do love the game. I`m happy the plan worked, that at 33 I`m still being super competitive and healthy and happy to be on tour.
"I still believe I can improve my game ... I think you have to try to reinvent yourself. Tennis is actually one of those sports where I feel like you can always do better."