Novak in no doubt Nadal will come back strong

Spain's Rafael Nadal is pictured during his match against Japan's Nishikori Kei during their French Tennis Open round of sixteen match at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris, on June 3, 2013

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New York (AFP) - Rafael Nadal casts a long shadow at Flushing Meadows, even though the Spaniard won't be defending his title when the US Open begins on Monday.

Although the oft-injured Nadal is now sidelined by a troublesome right wrist, current world number one Novak Djokovic has no doubt the 14-time Grand Slam champion will be back with a vengeance, just as he has been before.

Djokovic thinks Nadal's go-for-broke game takes an inevitable physical toll.

"He slides a lot and spends a lot of energy on each shot. His joints, his body suffers a lot, and it's not easy," Djokovic said.

"But again, he has found a way always to come back," added Djokovic, pointing do Nadal's stunning 2013 season in which he returned from a seven-month absence to win 10 titles in a career-high 14 finals and finish world number one for third time.

"So I expect no less," Djokovic said. "When he comes back to the tour than to see him strong, to see him motivated.

"He's a great competitor, a great fighter. I'm sure that if he had a small percentage of coming here and playing he would do that, because he just loves the game. I have a lot of respect for him."

Roger Federer, seeded second behind Djokovic in his quest for a record sixth US Open title, admits that Nadal's absence opens up the men's singles draw.

Overall, however, it's a loss for the game.

"It's not necessarily dependent, an event like this, on the one player, but it's more exciting with him," Federer said.

"For us, the players, I mean, we hope he gets well and he feels better quickly and all these things and he's back on tour soon.

"But at the same time, I think what stands out is the opportunity to try to take advantage of the fact that he's not here. It's one less really difficult player to beat maybe."

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