The 36-year-old Swiss, who is the top seed, needs to reach the semi-finals to regain pole position in the lists for the fourth time in his career and the first time since November 2012.
Federer set up the clash with 34-year-old Kohlschreiber following a 6-1 6-2 win over Ruben Bemelmans from Belgium on Wednesday.
The 20 time Grand Slam champion will start as favourite. He has won all 12 of their previous encounters. "I hope the 13th match does not bring me any bad luck," Federer joked ahead of the match. "I won't take it lightly against Kohlschreiber because he remains a dangerous opponent."
He added: "You always prefer to play the guy whose game you know. You know his patterns. It's nice to play someone like that. You know what to expect.
"My start will be crucial. I need to stay focused all the way. Any lapses can get you into trouble."
Federer improved his chances of becoming number one when he retained his Australian Open title in January. Rafael Nadal, the incumbent, fell in the last eight in Melbourne and has not played since as he recovers from injury.