The Swiss would leapfrog his long-time rival with a semifinal appearance at a tournament he has tasted success at on two separate occasions.
“The tournament is special for me,” Federer wrote on his official website.
“I remember playing for the first time in 1999 and it was one of the first events where I got the chance to play at the highest level. It feels good to join in the celebrations of the 45th edition.”
It is the Swiss’ first appearance in Rotterdam since 2013 and it comes as a surprise considering his success in Australia.
Federer has usually opted for the Dubai Duty Free Championships in the past as it aligns with his training base, but he would only be defending third round points this time out after crashing out to Evgeny Donskoy last year. The Swiss could also become the oldest male number one since Andre Agassi with Nadal not scheduled to play until two weeks time.
He is also aiming to become the first player since Arthur Ashe to win the crown in Rotterdam three times.
Joining in him in Rotterdam is the world number four Grigor Dimitrov, David Goffin, Alexander Zverev and Stan Wawrinka.
Likewise Nick Kyrgios is scheduled to make an appearance, alongside Tomas Berdych, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, David Ferrer and Richard Gasquet.
Tsonga reigned supreme at the event last time out, rallying from a set down to defeat Goffin, and past winners include the surprise victor Martin Klizan in 2016, Wawrinka, Berdych, Andy Murray and Juan Martin del Potro.