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Page last updated at 11:01 GMT, Friday, 13 March 2009

Murray makes Indian Wells return

Indian Wells Masters 1000
Date: 12-22 March Coverage: Live on Sky Sports (from 14 March), updates on BBC Radio 5 Live with text commentary on BBC Sport website

Murray on the mend in California

Andy Murray kicks off his Indian Wells campaign on Friday after declaring himself fit to play despite still suffering the after-effects of a virus.

The Scot partners Ross Hutchins in the doubles against Tomas Berdych and Nicolas Kiefer from around 1700 GMT.

And the fourth seed, who had a bye into the second round, will then face Albert Montanes in the singles on Saturday.

"There's no point in me coming here and saying I'm feeling perfect and I've had the best preparation," said Murray.

He's the greatest challenger I've ever had

Federer on Nadal
"I took 10 full days off. Obviously, because of that, I lost a little bit of fitness and I am not hitting the ball as well as I was before I was sick.

"But hopefully if I can get through a couple of matches I can work my way into the tournament.

"As you get older you start to understand that you're not going to feel perfect every week and you try and find a way to get through the first couple of matches."

The 21-year-old fell ill at the quarter-final stage of the Dubai Open two weeks ago and then pulled out of Great Britain's Davis Cup tie against Ukraine, saying the virus had hit him harder than any illness during his career.

Murray will test his fitness on Friday in the doubles ahead of what could be a tricky tie against Spain's world number 35 Montanes, who beat Frenchman Florent Serra 6-3 6-0 in the first round.

The British number one has met Montanes only once, beating him in straight sets on his way to the Qatar title in January.

Murray could face Roger Federer in the semi-finals as they have been drawn in the same half.

Should he come through his first match, the seedings suggest Murray would come up against Paul-Henri Mathieu, Tommy Robredo and Gilles Simon before facing Federer in the last four.

Federer, a three-times champion at Indian Wells, has lost to the British star five times in seven career meetings, including their last three encounters.

The Swiss, who announced on Thursday that he is to become a father, is also keen to renew his rivalry with Rafael Nadal after an epic five-set defeat in the Australian Open final last month.

"I love playing matches against him, especially those five-setters, seeing if I can hang with him physically without a problem," said Federer, who will first take on Marc Gicquel after the Frenchman beat Simone Bolelli 7-5 6-3 on Thursday.

"He's the greatest challenger I've ever had. I am really motivated because I don't know how much better he can play.

"I don't know how much better I can play, but I am right there and he's playing the tennis of his life."

Federer has been sidelined by a back injury since losing to Nadal in Australia, and he arrives in California without a new coach despite working with Australian Darren Cahill, former mentor of Andre Agassi, in Dubai.

"He said the travel was tough for him," said Federer. "He took the decision for me."

All the top players are involved at Indian Wells, with world number one Nadal the top seed and last year's champion, Novak Djokovic of Serbia, seeded third.

Former world number one Lleyton Hewitt got off to a winning start on Thursday as he beat Jan Hernych 7-6 (7-3) 6-3.

Indian Wells is the first event in the revamped Masters Series, now known as the Masters 1000 as each of the nine elite tournaments offers 1,000 ranking points to the winner.

Victory in a Grand Slam tournament earns a player 2,000 points, while regular ATP events carry either 500 or 250 points for the winner.

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