Roger Federer reported himself fit for a tilt at a third grand slam title of the year at the US Open.
The 36-year-old sparked alarm when he pulled out of the Masters event in Cincinnati after suffering a back problem during a final loss to Alexander Zverev at the Rogers Cup in Montreal two weeks ago.
Federer said: “Two weeks after the final is a long time, so because you’ve got two weeks you can take your time.
“The first week was really just trying to feel better, get better, get back on the court at some stage. I have been on the practice courts since last week.
“I have been playing sets the last few days and I’m really happy how I’m feeling.”
Tournament organisers must have been tempted to wrap Federer in cotton wool, with injuries having already cut a swathe through the top 10.
Defending champion Stan Wawrinka and 2015 champion Novak Djokovic have called an early end to their seasons, along with 2014 finalist Kei Nishikori, while Milos Raonic is another big name missing.
Andy Murray, meanwhile, looks set to play in New York but it remains to be seen how close to 100 per cent he is following the hip injury that dogged him at Wimbledon.
What the spate of injuries has done is make this the most open men’s grand slam tournament in years – albeit with Federer and Rafael Nadal as favourites.
The pair have won the opening three grand slams of the season for the first time since 2010 having failed to win one between them for two and a half years.
But there must be question marks over how Federer’s body will stand up to seven best-of-five-sets matches while Nadal, despite taking over from Murray as world number one this week, has suffered some unexpected losses since winning a 10th French Open.
Federer, who plays young American Frances Tiafoe in round one, said: “It opens the draw, like we saw in Montreal and Cincinnati. There will be certain sections that, if the seed loses, anything can happen. So I think it’s a huge opportunity for guys ranked outside of the top 10.”
He added of his and Nadal’s success: “I didn’t foresee that the defending champion and the finalist wouldn’t be here. And that Andy was going to struggle this year. You could foresee that maybe Rafa and me would be back at some stage in some shape or form but maybe not quite like this. So I think we’re all a bit surprised.
“Rafa’s year has been exceptional. People didn’t think he was going to win the French Open again. For me, only once he retires I believe he won’t win any more. Being back at world number one after all these years is really exceptional.”
One of the quirks of their great rivalry is that Federer and Nadal have never met at the US Open.
Were that to happen this year, it would come in the semi-finals, with both men in the top half of the draw.
Federer would welcome a clash, saying: “I’d be happy to play him here. I think that would be fun for everybody involved. We have our work cut out there.”
Nadal has a different attitude to the possible match-up, favouring his title chances over a piece of personal history.
“If I am in semi-finals, I prefer to play against another one,” he said with a smile. “It’s obvious, no? I am not that way. It sounds very good but the real thing, I prefer to play against another player, an easier one if it’s possible.”