It means the former world number one is set to meet Nadal in the fourth round of the Masters 1000 event – their first encounter since their epic five-set battle in the Australian Open final in January.
Djokovic, barring an impromptu exit, will await in the quarter finals but Federer instead is looking forward to the challenges in the early rounds.
“It doesn't matter. I've gone through so many draws. I came here to Indian Wells to play against those guys. So it doesn't matter if it's a semi, a final or actually a fourth round,” said the Swiss number two on Wednesday.
First and foremost, the 35-year-old will have to navigate his way past either Dudi Sela or Stephane Robert in the second round and a potential banana skin in Steve Johnson or Kevin Anderson, results permitting, in the third round.
“When you hear Rafa is in your section you’re like OK, then you hear that maybe Novak is in your section and you’re like OK, fine.”
Good to be back
Federer was forced to skip the event last year with a knee injury but says he is pleased to be back in the desert.
The Swiss star has won the crown four separate times but last tasted glory in 2012 when he dispatched the American John Isner in straight sets.
“It's good to be back here and still on the comeback,” he added.
“I'm enjoying practice more than ever and can't wait for the matches to roll around.”