Roger Federer may get the chance for revenge against Rafael Nadal at the Indian Wells ATP tournament starting tomorrow, his first event since losing last month's Australian Open final to the Spaniard. Federer's dreams of a record-equalling 14th grand slam singles crown were shattered when he was beaten by the left-handed Nadal in a five-set thriller at Melbourne Park. The Swiss, 27, a triple champion at Indian Wells, has been sidelined since then while trying to shake off a back injury.
But the Indian Wells Tennis Garden is an ideal venue for the world No 2 to kickstart his campaign, having posted a hat-trick of titles there from 2004. "This tournament has worked out well for me, winning three titles and playing some of my best tennis here," he said. Should Federer meet the world No 1 Nadal in the opening Masters Series event of the season he will come up against a player fresh from a commanding victory over Serbia's world No 3 Novak Djokovic at the weekend.
Federer's other main rivals in the men's event include the holder Djokovic and world No 4 Andy Murray. Among the contenders in the women's competition starting today, are the holder Ana Ivanovic, fellow Serb and world No 3 Jelena Jankovic and the second-ranked Russian Dinara Safina. Maria Sharapova, the 2006 champion, will begin her comeback from a shoulder injury in the doubles at Indian Wells where she will team up with Elena Vesnina.