A back complaint had ruled the 17-time Grand Slam champion out of the running at Roland Garros, but Federer feels the matches he got under his belt last week have managed to scrape away the “rust” from his game.
“I’m very happy to be back here, in a tournament where I’ve been coming for so, so long, seeing the progress over the years,” said the eight-time champion.
“I’m hoping that I can keep up the good level I reached at Stuttgart, I felt like I got better as the tournament progressed. It was unfortunate that I couldn’t win against Thiem but after all it went well.”
The top seed, searching for a fourth consecutive Halle title, managed to prevail in a three sets against rising star Taylor Fritz, and dispatched Florian Mayer before the in-form Austrian Dominic Thiem sent the 34-year-old packing in another turbulent three-set contest.
“I think I’m quite fortunate to have an extra week on grass. It comes definitely at the right time for me. It has given me a chance to feel a bit better, to shake off some of the rust,” revealed Federer.
“Having played so little over the past four months I’ve felt awfully rusty. So it’s going to take time, I feel better but clearly don’t feel as good as coming off from semis, a final, a win in Paris to come here with a lot of confidence in my game. I am lacking matches, lacking practice, lacking confidence in my movement, I haven’t played big points as such,” added the world No.3 “So there is clearly a completely different approach this year but one I don’t mind, it’s nice to experience change and hopefully I can make the most of it.”
Federer opens his title defence on Wednesday against German wildcard Jan-Lennard Struff, while Stuttgart champion Thiem will also have Tuesday off due to his rain delayed showdown with Philipp Kohlschreiber.
Targeting another Wimbledon crown to add to his current haul of seven, Federer is adamant that grass is the ideal surface for him to accelerate towards top form.
“I would think that everything comes more naturally on the grass. It was important in Stuttgart to play breakers and set points and match points, to get my body ready for that.
"Practice doesn’t go there, only matches can prepare you for that, with the nerves ahead of matches, rain delays, I had it all last week. It was a really good week. I’m more optimistic now than if I hadn’t played Stuttgart and come here without any matches or wins. So we’ll see now where it takes me.”