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

updated 3:53 AM EST, Sat March 9, 2013
Rafael Nadal could go head to head again with Roger Federer as the Spaniard returns to hard court action in California.
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

(CNN) -- 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.

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

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

How Novak Djokovic stays on top
Sloane Stephens hoping for patience

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

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.

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