By Larry Fine
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Overcoming hardship makes you stronger, according to Rafa Nadal, who is proving his point with a sensational comeback year and a sparkling hardcourt 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 of the U.S. Open.
The 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 U.S. 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.
World number two Nadal, who missed the 2012 U.S. Open because of a knee injury, will next play Ivan Dodig of Croatia, a 6-1 6-4 6-4 winner against Russian Nikolay Davydenko.
Silva had shown extraordinary grit in his opening round five-set victory against Canada's Vasek Pospisil, saving an astonishing seven match points -- the most in the ATP Tour this season -- before closing out the decisive tiebreaker 12-10.
Nadal gave the Brazilian no room to escape, however.
Victory on the court was sweet, but the Spaniard said making the climb back made it all the more satisfying.
"When you are in a low position, low situation, you are able to work to change that dynamic because you really feel the love for sport, the passion for sport," said 27-year-old Nadal.
"After overcoming a tough situation, then you are ready to compete better then before. That's something that I am sure. All my life I played with a lot of passion. I love the sport. I love the competition.
"So I feel very lucky and very happy to be back on the tour and playing well again."
(Reporting by Larry Fine; Editing by Ian Ransom)