The stars are all lined up for the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells this week. For the first time since Wimbledon a tournament will feature the full Big Four – Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Andy Murray and the returning Rafael Nadal. The Spaniard who was off for seven months recovering from a knee injury makes his hardcourt debut Saturday. And Rafa’s rival and friend Federer is happy to have him back in the fold even if he might have to play him in the quarterfinals next Thursday night.
“I only just saw him yesterday after my practice. I was really excited to see him again,” said Federer today. “We hadn’t had much contact. I think he wanted to get away from it all, which I really understand. 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.”
Federer is a four-time champion at Indian Wells including a title last year that took him through Nadal. But the champ hasn’t won a title since August.
“I think I played really well in Australia,” Federer said. “Rotterdam, I was disappointed with. I felt I could have done better. I played so well the year before. I never really got going. Dubai was a bit unfortunate losing with three match points and having to explain the loss when you feel you should be preparing for the final. What happened, happened. I’m playing fine. Obviously I hoped to have won a tournament by now but I’m happy with my game.”
Federer opens his title defense on Saturday against Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan. The 31-year-old is playing in his 13th straight Indian Wells event and his 100th career Masters 1000 tournament.
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