ZURICH (Reuters) - World number three Roger Federer has delayed his ATP World Tour return by a month and plans to make his comeback from knee surgery at the Monte Carlo Masters in April.
The 17-times grand slam champion had initially intended to return in March at the elite Indian Wells Masters in California where he has won the title four times.
In a Facebook post on Friday, the 34-year-old Federer said: "I have now had a lot of great practices on the court and in the gym. As it is a long year, I don't want to push it too hard and come back too soon.
"I will unfortunately not be able to make it back in time for the great event in Indian Wells but I do plan on playing in the desert next year.
"After consultation with my team, I have decided to enter the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters. Thanks for the support and I will see you back on tour soon," the Swiss added.
Federer had arthroscopic knee surgery in Switzerland earlier this month to repair a torn meniscus, having suffered the injury away from a tennis court the day after his Australian Open run ended in the semi-finals.
He withdrew from the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam and the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships with the intention of returning for the March 10-20 BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells in California.
However, Federer has now set his sights on the clay surface of Monte Carlo for the April 10-17 ATP World Tour Masters.
The Swiss maestro has rarely missed any tournaments for health reasons during his remarkable 18-year professional career.
In 2005 Federer was out of action for six weeks while he recovered from foot injury and during 2008 he was troubled by a bout of mononucleosis and back problems.
(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes; Editing by Tony Jimenez/Larry Fine)