I'll put my hand in the air and admit I didn't want Rafa to play in Cincinnati. I figured the long hours he'd put in on court in Rio (around 23 hours in a week) would mean even he would be tired. Plus, the information about the state of his wrist was sketchy, to say the least.
I guess, therefore, I should be happy that he did turn up and managed to defend his points without any obvious damage to his health.
It was good that he managed to beat Pablo Cuevas, 6-1, 7-6(4), but somewhat annoying that Borna Coric was lucky enough to meet his when he was clearly struggling with fatigue and was therefore able to beat him, 1-6, 3-6.
It's been hard to find any pictures I can use where he isn't gurning with effort. Here are the few that are OK.
Here is an extract from his post match press conference.
"I feeled the arm too tired. Elbow, shoulder. You know, two months and a half without competing, and especially without practicing, and then do what I did in the Olympics, come here, different balls, too much.
"It's not the ideal situation to come back to the competition. After two months and a half and with an injury in the wrist, the normal thing is try to come back a little bit slower.
"But having the Olympics there I didn't had that chance. Now I pay. I pay that, no? Was a little bit too much and my body was to the limit since after the finish of Rio.
"I came here; I tried. I tried to do the right things to be ready, but obvious that I was not ready today.
"The positive thing is I was keep playing. That's the only thing, no? Is a big event; I am a tennis player. I want to play tennis, no? After two months and a half without competing, was not easy to take the decision after the Olympics to not coming here.
"I didn't want to be back home. I spent enough time at home last three months. I needed to keep practicing, keep playing, and that's why I am here and that's why I'm don't going to come back to Spain before the US Open.
"The wrist is still the same. I said too many times already, spoke too many times about the wrist. The wrist is still bothering me but is a process that I need to pass and a process that I need to go through.
"I need to play to go through that process. With more rest the wrist will not go better. The wrist needs to adapt again to the game. Needs to adapt again to hit the ball.
"The only negative thing is in one week I pass from not practicing almost anything and playing 23 hours in seven days. So that's the thing. The wrist is not worse of that so that's great news, but is not better.
"Still bothers me, but I need to keep playing. Day by day I hope that things going to go better.
"I think I need to recover emotionally, physically, and especially I need to give some rest to the wrist, the arm, to everything, no?
"So I am not sure about my schedule yet. I finished just half an hour ago. I need to check with my team what's the best thing we can do to prepare well the US Open."
Siempre contigo, Rafa