I've been sitting here in front of my computer for quite a while as I've tried to think what to say about this tournament. Assorted displacement activities have been employed but it's time to knuckle down and write something.
I admit to being nervous about his first round match. I know that is something that would have been unthinkable a couple of years back but what has been happening over the last year or so has forced me to take nothing for granted. However, he beat Pablo Carreno Busta, 6-1, 6-4.
Next was Nicolas Almagro and, despite the fact he's only lost to him once, again I was worried. It says more about where my head is than Rafa's since he won that, too, in straight sets, 6-3, 7-5.
Nothing daunted, I worried about his quarter final. I've been there in person for his last two matches against Dolgopolov and he's lost them both. The relief when he didn't have to play him was immense. (As an aside, it was also a relief to know he wouldn't be playing in the wee small hours since the appalling weather in Rio had played havoc with the schedule all week.)
I made the fatal mistake of being lulled into complacency and didn't stress about Pablo Cuevas. Even in my pessimistic world it was a surprise loss. (7-6(6), 6-7(3), 4-6, for the record.)
We can't know what is going on in his head but one thing we do know is that if anyone can get through this, it's Rafa. He has inspired us time and again with his fight and almost superhuman ability to overcome obstacles.