Federer: Good to have Rafa back as Indian Wells clash looms

Rafael Nadal could go head to head again with Roger Federer as the Spaniard returns to hard court action in California.

Story highlights

  • Roger Federer relishes Rafael Nadal's return
  • Arch rivals could face off in the quarterfinals at Indian Wells
  • No.1 Novak Djokovic favorite for the hard court title
  • Victoria Azarenka tops women's seedings

Roger Federer is "excited" by the return of Rafael Nadal to the ATP Tour, but could face his great Spanish rival in the quarterfinals as he defends his Masters 1000 Series title at Indian Wells.

Nadal made his return from seven months out through injury in clay court tournaments in South America, but will be playing his first hard court event as he tests his troublesome knee.

Read: Comeback kid Nadal wins Brazil title

World No.2 Federer, who is seeking his first trophy of 2013, is delighted Nadal is returning to the big time in California.

"I only just saw him yesterday after my practice. I was really excited to see him again," the Swiss maestro told the official ATP Tour website.

"We hadn't had much contact. I think he wanted to get away from it all, which I really understand."

Federer: Do more drug testing
Federer: Do more drug testing

    JUST WATCHED

    Federer: Do more drug testing

MUST WATCH

Federer: Do more drug testing 03:19
Federer targets more grand slam titles
Federer targets more grand slam titles

    JUST WATCHED

    Federer targets more grand slam titles

MUST WATCH

Federer targets more grand slam titles 03:16

Nadal won the final tournament of his early season 'clay court swing' in Mexico at the weekend and Federer took note.

Read: Nadal's hard court injury claims refuted

"I was really happy to see him doing so well in Acapulco. It's great to see him here playing on the hard courts. I'm hoping to catch up with him this week."

Nadal, a two-time former winner in Indian Wells, said he was in good shape for the challenge ahead.

"I feel very good. I've practiced two times here," he said.

"But seriously, I understand my situation after seven months. I think it's not the right moment to talk about the knee. I am here to try my best and that's what I'm going to try. We'll see how the knee responds on hard.

"The results on clay were positive, especially because the knee was feeling better and better every week, especially last week. Now I'm going to try here."

Read: Djokovic battles to Dubai crown

Both will have their work cut out to prevent World No.1 Novak Djokovic getting his hands on the trophy for the third time.

How Novak Djokovic stays on top
How Novak Djokovic stays on top

    JUST WATCHED

    How Novak Djokovic stays on top

MUST WATCH

How Novak Djokovic stays on top 06:13
Sloane Stephens hoping for patience
Sloane Stephens hoping for patience

    JUST WATCHED

    Sloane Stephens hoping for patience

MUST WATCH

Sloane Stephens hoping for patience 03:06

The Serbian is on a 17-match unbeaten run, stretching back to November last year, winning the Australian Open and Dubai titles in 2013.

He potentially faces No.3 Andy Murray in the semifinals. Djokovic beat the Scot in the final of the first grand slam of the season in Australia.

The top women in the world, led by No.2 and Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka, are playing in a WTA event at the same venue.

No.1 Serena Williams is skipping the tournament.

In second round action Friday, former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova had to battle past Olga Govortsova of the Belarus, 6-4 3-6 6-3, while Maria Sharapova beat Francesca Schiavone in straight sets in a later match.

      Tennis

    • Rafael Nadal of Spain watches the ball in his match against Martin Klizan of Slovakia during during day seven of the China Open at the National Tennis Center on October 3, 2014 in Beijing, China.

      What does 2015 hold for Rafa?

      Rafael Nadal's body might be giving him a few problems, but his mind remains as strong as ever. Will the Spaniard add to his haul of 14 grand slam titles?
    • LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 17: Wimbledon champion Andy Murray and his long time girlfriend Kim Sears arrive at Buckingham Palace on October 17, in London, England. Murray will become an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) and receive his medal from the Duke of Cambridge. (Photo by John Stillwell - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

      Love game: Andy Murray to tie knot

      The Scot has served up a few changes to his support team in 2014 but there's one person who isn't going anywhere -- his new fiancée Kim Sears.
    • Despite being forced to retire at the age of 24 due to health problems, Lacoste remained in the game and went on start the "Lacoste" brand in 1933, which specialised in tennis products. The inspiration for the company's logo came from his nickname as a player, "le crocodile."

      'Crocodile' who broke all the rules

      His distinctive crocodile logo is seen on clothing all over the world, but Rene Lacoste also left a lasting legacy in the development of tennis.
    • Serena Williams of the US holds the US Open trophy after defeating Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark during their US Open 2014 women's singles finals match at the USTA Billie Jean King National Center September 7, 2014 in New York. AFP PHOTO/Stan HONDA (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

      Serena savors U.S. Open win

      Serena Williams is without peer in the modern women's game and now she is on a par with two American tennis legends from the past.
    • American tennis player and golfer Althea Gibson (right) receives a kiss from compatriot Darlene Hard, whom she beat in two sets to become the first black woman to win the Women's Singles Finals at Wimbledon.

      The amazing life of Althea Gibson

      Over the course of her remarkable life, Althea Gibson was many things to many people -- but it was tennis where she really left her mark.
    • Courting couple at match point

      "I didn't cry once when I practiced in front of the mirror," says Martin Emmrich. But the nerves kicked in when he got down on one knee on court.
    • LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 03: Tennis / Frauen: Wimbledon 2004, London; Finale; Siegerin Maria SHARAPOVA / RUS 03.07.04. (Photo by Bongarts/Bongarts/Getty Images)

      'Baby' Sharapova's big moment

      It's 10 years since a teenage Maria Sharapova became the darling of Wimbledon's hallowed Center Court, launching herself as a star.
    • 'Swiss Miss' follows mom's lead

      Five-time grand slam champion Martina Hingis has followed her mom into a coaching role, setting up a new tennis academy in Barcelona, Spain.