Pressure at home for Federer
Basel - Roger Federer will be bidding to get back on the title-winning track at his home event a year after ceding the Swiss Indoors trophy to Novak Djokovic as the top seed begins his campaign on Monday against Aleksandr Dolgopolov.
Federer won his third title of the season last weekend in Stockholm, defeating German Florian Mayer in a morale-boosting end to the Swedish week.
The world number two, whose trophy run in Basel was interrupted last year by Djokovic in the final, will need all of his powers of concentration to shut out the hometown pressure which inevitably arises at the tournament which is among the closest to his heart.
After dedicating a "Walk of Fame" to himself and erected in Switzerland by a sponsor, Federer will now need to shut out distraction as he tries to duplicate his home successes from 2006-2008.
"I expect a tough tournament with strong opponents," said the top seed. "But I've played very well in recent months. As long as I stay physically and mentally strong, I'm confident."
Stockholm marked the 64th career title for Federer, with the 77 of John McEnroe the next objective for the 29-year-old with a record 16 Grand Slam titles.
Djokovic takes the third seeding at the St Jakobshalle, starting with his one-time junior rival Ernests Gulbis of Latvia, who for all of his future promise still sits outside the Top 20.
Federer can lay claim as the lone player to win three straight trophys at the event where he once served as a ballboy, with Swede Stefan Edberg taking the title in 1985, 1986 and 1988.
The Swiss has never played Dolgopolov, a 21-year-old Ukrainian ranked 49th who beat Marcos Baghdatis in Beijing this month.
Wimbledon finalist Thomas Berdych, whose form since the grass season has been disappointing, takes the third seeding ahead of Andy Roddick, who was cleared by doctors to play after a knee injury suffered a fortnight ago in Shanghai.
Roddick has been drawn to face fellow American Sam Querrey in the first round while Berdych takes on a qualifier. American John Isner, the Wimbledon marathon match man, is seeded eighth.
Austrian Jurgen Melzer will need a fast recovery from elbow problems which bothered him at the weekend as he defends the Vienna title, with the fifth seed scheduled to start with Santiago Giraldo of Colombia.
Argentine David Nalbandian will be competing for only the second time after the US Open, with the 2002 winner getting a qualifier to start.
Qualifying for the last three spots in the season-ending eight-man World Tour Finals is expected to heat up in the penultimate week of the ATP campaign.
Berdych is in the queue with Roddick provisional eighth to join a London field which already includes Rafael Nadal, Federer, Djokovic, Andy Murray and Robin Soderling.
Roger Federer (SUI x1)
Novak Djokovic (SRB x2)
Thomas Berdych (CZE x3)
Andy Roddick (USA x4)
Jurgen Melzer (AUT x5)
Marin Cilic (CRO x6)
Ivan Ljubicic (CRO x7)
John Isner (USA x8)