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.
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.”
Nadal won the final tournament of his early season ‘clay court swing’ in Mexico at the weekend and Federer took note.
“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.”
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.
Reprinted from CNN