Switzerland tennis great Roger Federer said Sunday at a press conference before starting his first Madrid Open campaign in four years that he has respect for Spain's David Ferrer, who is set to retire after participating in the upcoming tournament.

"I am a big admirer of his (Ferrer's) work ethic and personality. Of course also his success, but the person comes first and the guy has been so solid for the past 20 years," Federer said.

"I have always had - for the little we speak together or as much as we speak together - (communication with Ferrer) that has always been one with a lot of respect. Obviously, we have had some good matches over the years," the Swiss player said.

"I see the guy is on my level and I look to him, eye to eye. I am happy for him that he was able to take the decision (to retire) and really seem to be genuinely happy because he is also playing well now at the end of his career and he can go out on his terms and I think for any top athlete like he is, that is the dream. That you can leave on your terms," the 37-year-old said.

"I hope it is going to be a wonderful experience for him. I am sure he is going to be a little bit torn in his heart that it is coming to an end. But he is going to feel the love from the people and that was already the case, I am sure, in Barcelona as well when he played Rafa there."

And now again here in Madrid. I think it is going to be great. He has all the respect from my side. He does not need to prove himself anymore and I just wish him all the very best for what is to come with his family and his future."

Federer, a three-time Madrid Open champion, had prepared for a return to the clay court by training with Dan Evans of the United Kingdom at a high altitude for over 20 days in the Tennisclub of Felsberg, located in the Swiss alpine city of Chur.

Federer said that fortunately the weather now is good in the Spanish capital compared with his last time playing in the central Iberian city four years ago, when it was snowing.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion said he was happy with the decision he made in late 2018 not to skip the clay season as Federer did over the last couple of years. EFE