Roger Federer says it's time for him to step up his game if he wants his recent seven-week break from the tennis circuit to start paying off.
The 17-time Grand Slam winner returned to action last week at the Madrid Open and got his clay-court season off to a difficult start with a third-round loss to Kei Nishikori of Japan.
Speaking at the Italian Open Sunday, Federer said ''I hope it's going to have some effect eventually. Clearly for that I need to start playing well now and put myself deep into a tournament.''
If he does manage to put together a few wins, Federer believes he'll be fresher mentally than his opponents.
Federer has never won the Italian Open. His best results were reaching the final in 2003 and 2006.