|Screen star: Phelps won seven medals in Shanghai but missed out to Lochte in the 200 freestyle [GALLO/GETTY]
Michael Phelps is eagerly anticipating a showdown with Ian Thorpe at next year's London Olympics – if the Australian chooses to compete in the men's 200 metres freestyle.
It could set up another 'Race of the Century', with Thorpe and Phelps' fellow American Ryan Lochte.
Thorpe has returned to the pool after quitting competition in 2006 and is targeting next year's Games, where he is expected to concentrate on three events, the 200 freestyle and the 4x100 and 4x200 freestyle relays.
Phelps and Thorpe, along with Pieter van den Hoogenband, provided a memorable showdown in the 200 freestyle at the Athens Olympics in 2004, which was dubbed the 'Race of the Century'.
Phelps insists another showdown in London could be just as exciting.
"The 200 free has turned into a fun event," Phelps said in Shanghai, a day after the world swimming championships ended.
"Just being able to have the chance to swim in a race with Thorpe again is something I will be looking forward to.
"I've only had two races with him in my career and being able to have him back in the pool will be exciting for the sport."
Phelps, the most successful Olympian in history who won an unprecedented eight gold medals at Beijing 2008, finished second behind compatriot Lochte in the 200 freestyle at Shanghai.
But it was the closeness of the finish that had him excited.
"Having five guys go under 1:45 was pretty impressive," he added, referring to Lochte, himself, Park Tae-hwan, Paul Biedermann and Yannick Agnel all touching within 0.55 seconds of each other, with Agnel fifth in 1:44.99.
"The rest of the world is swimming faster and I think we will be pretty excited for next year."
Phelps had said before the championships began that he was using the meeting in Shanghai to ascertain "where he was at" before he begins his preparations for his final Olympics in London.
He finished with four gold medals, two silvers and a bronze but also with a feeling of frustration.
"I always set high goals," he said at an event where he was named as a new global ambassador for the Special Olympics.
"It's frustrating. I'm fairly satisfied but at the end of the day it's hard for me to be totally satisfied.
"I know I can go faster, I can go a lot faster I think."