3/16/13 1:40 AM | Johan Lindahl
Roger Federer has expressed no surprise at all that rival Rafael Nadal is back to nearly top form after losing a quarterfinal to the Spaniard to exit the Indian Wells Masters.
While hiding details of back pain which bothered him during the desert event, world No. 2 Federer gave full credit to the powers of Nadal, competing in his first event on hardcourt since missing seven months with a knee injury.
"He's not going to come back if he's not well, he's not going to come back half broken," said the Swiss of Nadal, who won two clay titles before turning his attention to the Masters 1000 in California. "I expected him to tear through the (February South American) clay. I expected him to be tough here, which he shows to be."
From Federer's viewpoint, there is hardly a change in the style of Nadal, though he did add: "He's a bit careful at times (with) his movement. That's totally normal.
"He hasn't played for some time on hard court. I don't know if it's careful or if it's just getting used to it again. But we're talking about slow clay courts. He can return from way back in the court. It's not like on a hard court where you have to react super-fast.
"And even that would be no problem for him, otherwise he wouldn't have come back on tour. So I don't understand the talk in the first place after the three tournaments he played on clay."
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