Federer sounds big warning to Nadal and rivals

Roger Federer has sounded a big warning to the tour -- and Rafael Nadal in their fight for the year-end world No.1 ranking -- at the Shanghai Masters.

The Swiss great hasn't played an official match since losing to Juan Martin del Potro in the US Open quarter-finals, with the Laver Cup in September his only appearance since the final grand slam of the year.

The light schedule continued an approach that began earlier this year after returning from injury to win the Australian Open and two hard-court tournaments in the United States.

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The world No.2 skipped all clay tournaments, including the French Open, and has taken part in just nine tournaments for a total of 43 matches.

And he has declared it a big advantage over his competitors, one that he hopes will elevate his play in his final four tournaments of the year.

"I hope that I will feel the benefit now while other guys are maybe getting a bit tired," he told the ATP website.

Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. Pic: Getty

"I'm actually totally still fresh in a sense because I didn't play that much this season. I'm used to playing 70 to 90 or 100 matches a season, so this year that's not the case.

"That's why I feel quite refreshed here for Shanghai and hopefully also for Basel, Paris and London."

Federer's court time has been in stark contrast to the world No.1 Nadal, who also missed most of 2016 through injury.

The Spaniard has played 68 matches across 15 tournaments this year, including last week's triumph at the China Open in Beijing.

Yet Nadal shows no signs of regret over his heavier schedule -- especially when it ends with more trophies.

"For both of us, we are very happy to be where we are very late in our careers," he said.

"It's something that probably wasn't our goal, to be where we are today, to be competitive and fight for tournaments, but the situation went like this and I think it's a beautiful thing that we are happy with."

Federer and Nadal open their Shanghai campaigns on Wednesday night AEDT against Diego Schwartzman and Jared Donaldson respectively.