I was really hoping that writing this week's home page would be a pleasure. A combination of brutal conditions and an inspired Dominic Thiem has meant that, once more, it's difficult to come up with many positives. There aren't even press transcripts for me to excavate for gems from Rafa's own mouth. When things are tough he usually offers a good perspective.
So, what did we get this week?
After a first round bye, he played Juan Monaco in the round of 16. It was a tough opener since Monaco is a friend and this was his first tournament back after a career threatening injury. Plus, of course, he was playing in front of his home crowd.
During the match, Rafa had to take tablets for a stomach upset which he said was caused by the change in temperature and humidity from Mallorca. How much this played a part is difficult to say but Rafa dropped serve three times on his way to a 6-4, 6-4 victory.
In the quarter final he beat Paolo Lorenzi, 7-6(3), 6-2.
This match was played in the afternoon so the heat was even more intense. There have been many arguments on the vamosbrigade.com message board as to just how hot it felt on court. Heat in humid conditions can feel worse because your sweat doesn't evaporate to cool you down. Of course, both players are playing in the same conditions so it can only really be used as an argument for or against the quality of play.
(It might also explain why most of the pictures I can find show Rafa grimacing.)
I had my worries about his semi final against Dominic Thiem so I was not that surprised when he lost, 4-6, 6-4, 6-7(4).
Doesn't make it any easier, though.
Rather than paraphrase I'm going to quote what JLB said on our message board because she said just what I want to say.
"General point, I wasn't saying that the conditions were the reason Rafa lost - I was saying that the conditions were a factor in why he lost - that's not the same thing at all.
"And I don't believe that the conditions for a healthy Dominic Thiem were the same as the conditions for a Rafa Nadal who had been ill early in the week - that weakens you a bit, and makes all the difference IMO, especially in those conditions.
"As I said yesterday, I won't read anything terminal into Rafa's career based on this week - it doesn't show a true picture of where his game (or his head) is at.
"Going back to Dominic Thiem - he's been long touted as a potential top player, and he's been playing well the last 6 months. He's world number 19 and rising (different to world number 19 and falling, IMO) and 22 years old. A bit of respect for him wouldn't go astray. And even given that, when Rafa was able to play at his level yesterday, he obviously outclassed him. Rafa's game is still there - he just wasn't able to execute consistently enough yesterday, for whatever reason."
On to Rio.