The Swiss ace revealed a major hint at retirement in the aftermath of his US Open opening round win over Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka.
His 6-2, 6-2, 6-4 win preserved his perfect record of 18 wins from 18 in first-round matches at the Grand Slam in New York.
Told by an ESPN reporter on court about his Flushing Meadows winning streak, Federer said: “I’m very happy to be back in New York, healthy – the last couple of years have been difficult so it’s nice to be back feeling really good.
“I’m happy I never stumbled at the first hurdle. It’s almost time to retire, but not yet!”
Those comments were taken to suggest that the 37-year-old had formed an idea on when he might end his immensely-successful 20-year professional career.
The world No 2 is targeting a 21st major success at this year’s US Open as he seeks a first triumph at the tournament in a decade.
Federer still remains one of the most dangerous players on the ATP Tour despite his age having snapped up titles at the Australian Open, Rotterdam Open and Stuttgart Open as well being a losing finalist at the Indian Wells Masters, Halle Open and Cincinnati Masters.
And the 20-time Grand Slam champion calmed fears that his retirement is potentially in the pipeline in an exclusive sit-down interview with ESPN after his defeat of Nishioka.
“No, I don’t know [how much longer I’m going to play],” Federer told journalist Chris McKendry and tennis legend John McEnroe.
“You’re the first to know if I have any plans, I promise!
“For the moment, I’m still playing. I have no plans to retire.”
Joking with McEnroe – the Team World captain of the Laver Cup – Federer suggested he will not be hanging up his racket next season either given his intentions to play in the third edition of the tournament.
“Right, so it’s in Geneva, Switzerland so I’ve got to play there!” Federer said.
Asked why it is to be hosted in his homeland, McEnroe intimating that it could serve as the perfect farewell to his career, Federer added: “They wanted it so badly. No, but that’s very exciting.”
Federer also sought to quash suggestions that he would be hanging up his racket any time soon in his press conference.
He told gathered media: “That [comment] was meaning like I never lost a first-round match here at the Open. I won all my 18 [matches]. You don’t want that to happen next year.
“I said maybe I could retire now, because I protect my 18 first-round wins here. That’s what I meant with it. It’s a total joke, yes.
“So please don’t read into it. Don’t even write that word!”
Federer returns to court with a second-round clash against France’s Benoit Paire.
Both players will hope that the soaring temperatures in New York begin to cool with several players – including world No 43 Leonardo Mayer – having withdrawn on the second day of play as a result of the gruelling conditions.
Temperatures reached around 36 degrees celsius with the sun and humidity forcing numerous retirements.
The United States Tennis Association allowed the use of an extreme heat policy for the first time ever, giving male players the option of a 10-minute break between the third and fourth set to cool down.
The rule has previously only ever been used on the WTA Tour but was used by ATP players such as Novak Djokovic in his win over Marton Fucsovics, the break proving vital as the Serbian went on to earn a 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, 6-0 victory.
The USTA revealed in a statement that the tournament’s referee and medical team will continue to keep an eye on conditions and decide when the policy will no longer be in effect.