By Matt Smith
DUBAI, Feb 24 (Reuters) - Roger Federer will take a near two-month break from competitive tennis following the Indian Wells tournament in March as the 31-year-old opts to spend more time with his young family and prepare for the clay-court season.
The Swiss, speaking to reporters ahead of the start of the Dubai championships on Monday, stressed that his lighter schedule was to help prolong his playing career and not a sign of him winding down, with the father-of-two determined to add to his record haul of 17 Grand Slam singles titles.
"The last few years have been really tricky in terms of my practice schedule, especially through an Olympic year (in 2012)," said the world number two. "This year is totally different. Family is very important, so I also want to spend quality time with them."
After the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, which runs from March 4-17, Federer will not play another tournament until the Madrid Open in early May, allowing him to take a holiday with his family, then spend four to six weeks practising on clay courts in Switzerland.
"I can't play a year like I did last year every single season, because that isn't the point I'm at in my career - I'm not 22 where I have to play 25-30 tournaments a year," said Federer, who has twin three-year-old daughters.
"Plus, I believe I'll be really ready for the tournaments I've entered."
Federer won Wimbledon in 2012, with Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray also claiming one grand slam event each last year.
This quartet are likely to vie again for the sport's top prizes as Nadal returns from a seven-month injury layoff, and Federer is the oldest of the group by nearly five years.
"I'm trying to be smart with my scheduling because I'm in a totally different situation than they are - they are right in their prime," he said.
"For me, it's very challenging and why I need to make the right decisions with personal life and my family. None of the guys have that, so I have many more things to worry about than they do." (Editing by Clare Fallon)