"When you go away from the game for over a two-month period it starts feeling a little bit that way".
In other men's matches, Juan Martin del Potro steamed his way into the third round as the sixth seed needed just 69 minutes to beat Australian teenager Alex de Minaur 6-2, 6-1.
Just 16 and still subject to playing restrictions, she had not won a match on the WTA Tour before arriving in Indian Wells.
Djokovic bounced back in the second, but Daniel took advantage of his opponent's poor form to win the third.
Also, American Taylor Fritz defeated Fernando Verdasco of Spain, 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (7/1), Croatia's Borna Coric breezed past Roberto Bautista 6-1, 6-3 and Pablo Carreno-Busta of Spain, stopped Russian Daniil Medvedev 6-1, 7-5.
"He hasn't got the biggest serve out there so you get a lot of looks to break and when you have momentum on your side - not only serving but from the baseline, things go very quickly".
Djokovic was makings his first appearance since being stunned by Hyeon Chung at the Australian Open.
"To me, it's not that surprising", Federer said.
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Sky Sports have broadcast rights to the 2018 Indian Wells tournament.
"For me, I think Roger Federer is certainly the greatest player that has come along", Laver said earlier this year.
"You can't really look ahead to semi-finals, finals and speculate about who you could play", he said. I was actually pretty nervous playing the match.
But at a time when top players are continuing to excel deep into their thirties - Roger Federer is back at No. 1 at age 36 - it is easy to overlook the re-emergence of the prodigies.
Federer and 10th seed Djokovic both came into the tournament seeking to become the first six-time victor of the event.
Chardy, who came into the all-French tussle with an unbeaten record against Mannarino from their three previous meetings, edged the opening set before the French No 2 hit back to force a decider and claim his first set against the 31-year-old.
Gael Monfils upset number 15 seed and 2012 runner-up John Isner 6-7 (5), 7-6 (3), 7-5. "I felt I was too close to winning". "He's only going to get better from here".