Defending champion Roger Federer cruised into the third round of the Indian Wells ATP Masters and WTA tournament Saturday as old foe Rafael Nadal awaited his first hard-court test in nearly a year.
Federer, whose triumph over American John Isner in last year's final gave him a fourth career Indian Wells crown, needed just 67 minutes to subdue Uzbekistan's Denis Istomin 6-2, 6-3.
"It felt good from the start and I was able to maintain that level of play," said Federer, who didn't face a break point. "I never thought he got into the match at all. That gives you even more confidence."
Federer, seeded second here behind world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, is seeking a first tournament triumph of 2013 after being denied title repeats at Rotterdam and Dubai.
But that quest has been overshadowed by Nadal's return to hard courts in his fourth tournament back after a seven-month injury layoff.
The 11-time Grand Slam champion from Spain got his comeback off to a blazing start on clay, with one runner-up finish and two titles in three Latin American tournaments.
But the fifth-seed's second-round opener against American Ryan Harrison on Saturday night was to be his first on hard courts since he pulled out before the semi-finals in Miami last year with tendinitis in his left knee -- the same damaged knee that would later sideline him for seven months.
Federer said he fully expected Nadal to be ready.
"When I see the name of Nadal, I think of him as the great champion he is, and I expect him to win 99 percent of the matches he plays," said Federer, who is is seeded to meet Nadal in the quarter-finals.
"Him not having played, for me, doesn't make any difference, really. I still expect him to be really difficult and tough to beat here."
Nadal's fellow Spaniard David Ferrer said much the same, even after he himself became the first major casualty of the tournament.
David Ferrer, who has edged ahead of Nadal in the world rankings to No. 4, was beaten 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 by 37th-ranked South African Kevin Anderson.
"He played more aggressive, more consistent than me," said Ferrer, whose defeat followed a comprehensive 6-0, 6-2 loss to Nadal in the final at Acapulco on March 2.
Perhaps with that rout still in mind, Ferrer said he expected Nadal to flourish on hard courts, just as he has on clay.
"He's playing good," Ferrer said. "He's not playing with pain in his knee and that is a very good point."
Women's top seed and defending champion Victoria Azarenka survived a shaky start to make it safely into the third round with a 6-4, 6-1 victory over two-time former champion Daniela Hantuchova.
Azarenka, unbeaten in 2013 and winner of the Australian Open and the WTA event in Doha, fell behind 4-1 in the first, but surrendered just one game from there to win in an hour and a half.
German fourth seed Angelique Kerber advanced with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Romanian Irina-Camelia Begu.
Seventh-seeded Australian Samantha Stosur used a break of serve in each set to dispatch US teenager Madison Keys 6-3, 6-4.