Federer has already superseded the American's record of Grand Slam titles - he has 16 to the retired Sampras' 14 - but is prepared to accept the possibility of not getting back to the top of the rankings.
The 30-year-old world number three from Switzerland has not won a Grand Slam title for two years, even though he defeated world number one Novak Djokovic in a sensational semi-final at last year's French Open.
Nor has he been top of the rankings himself since June 2010, though Federer still believes that his level of play makes it possible to regain the pinnacle from Djokovic.
"It would be great to having that record (286 weeks at number one) but my life is okay without it," Federer said.
"Pete is a friend of mine, and I don't need to break every record he has. If I do things the right way, it will come back. And if not, that's fine for me. Hopefully I will get back to number one and have the record.
"If I play really well from here to the US Open there is a shot at it", Federer said. "There again there is a shot for about ten players. But I feel I am on a good roll."
Federer believes that consistency, fitness and his mind set - and in particular whether he is "ready for the sacrifice and to go the distance" - are what will decide whether or not he returns to number one.
He also appears to have acquired a mellow attitude towards winning another Grand Slam title. Asked if capturing a 17th were a priority, he said: "Yes and no. I don't see it that way.
"Obviously it's a big priority, but it's not everything, or I wouldn't be playing here in Dubai. I do play 20 tournaments and not four. There are a lot of priorities. This is an Olympic year which is a big priority.
"If a Slam comes my way I will be happy to take it. I have been working hard and making the right decisions so hopefully I will pick up another one."
Federer acknowledged that both Djokovic, currently the holder of three Grand Slam titles, and Andy Murray, the first Briton since the 1930s to reach three Grand Slam finals, are both playing better.
He also admitted to being surprised at how consistent the top four men have been. But Federer was most insightful when explaining why he had not managed to add to his tally of majors in the last two years.
"Not winning Grand Slams I put down to missed opportunities rather than how I have been playing," Federer said. "I think I had tough losses which denied me a Slam.
"That was due to a bit of confidence and to mindset - maybe on my side and maybe on my opponent's side. When you are winning lots of finals you don't lose those matches I put it down to that a bit. But I think I am playing as well as I used to."
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