|Rafael Nadal in action against Rogerio Dutra Silva, on Thursday
New York: Top-seeded Novak Djokovic saved two set points in the opening set but lost just four games the rest of the way in beating Germany's Benjamin Becker 7-6 (2), 6-2, 6-2 on Friday to reach the third round of the US Open.
Djokovic was broken in the ninth game of the first set to fall behind 4-5, but broke right back and forced a tie-breaker, which he won 7-2 before cruising the rest of the way.
After the 52-minute first-set struggle on a windy Arthur Ashe Stadium court, the Serb won the next two sets in a total of 59 minutes to seal his victory.
Australia Open champion Djokovic, the 2011 US Open winner, will next face either Finland's Jarkko Nieminen or Portugal's Joao Sousa.
Overcoming hardship makes you stronger, according to Rafa Nadal, who is proving his point with a sensational comeback year and a sparkling hard-court run after a debilitating knee injury.
Nadal was sidelined for seven months by the injury, but hard work and determination have again made him a ferocious force as evidenced by his 6-2, 6-1, 6-0 mauling of Rogerio Dutra Silva of Brazil on Thursday to reach the third round.
Meanwhile, Li Na looked like a Grand Slam champion, while Laura Robson looked like a promising teenager.
The fifth-seeded Li avenged her third-round upset loss to the young Brit at last year’s US Open, winning in straight sets Friday at the same stage at Flushing Meadows.
Li, the 2011 French Open champ, rallied from down a break in the second set for a 6-2, 7-5 victory.
Agnieszka Radwanska needed nearly two hours to slip past No. 32-seeded Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-4, 7-6 (1). The third-seeded Pole faced 10 break points, but Pavlyuchenkova was able to convert only two, while Radwanska was 3 for 5.
Nadal’s victory improved the Spanish second seed to 17-0 on hardcourts this year, which has included titles at Indian Wells, Montreal and Cincinnati among his nine trophies in 2013.
Nadal said overcoming adversity was enormously satisfying. “When you are coming back after hard times, after an injury ... you need to work hard. You need to work with the right attitude every day,” said 12-times winner Nadal.
“You need to be ready to suffer, to enjoy the suffering, and to be able to change the situation.”
Nadal, the 2010 US Open champion, has dramatically turned around his fortunes, posting a 2013 match record of 55-3.
He put his dominance on display in a 92-minute rout at Arthur Ashe Stadium, facing only one break point but saving it and ripping 30 winners to the Brazilian’s nine.
The world No. 2 will next play Ivan Dodig of Croatia, a 6-1, 6-4, 6-4 winner against Russian Nikolay Davydenko.