Slowly but surely, he's working his way back to form. Rafa started slowly (literally) against Paulie, eventually finding himself down 4-1. He looked a step slow and fairly tentative, and Paulie capitalized by jumping on every short ball that Rafa hit. But then he hit a ridiculous backhand flick passing shot and something seemed to flip. He got that fire back and the fistpumping and vamosing kicked into high gear.
I was gchatting with donkeygrooming at the time and she asked what the score was. I told her Rafa was down 1-4 but he would be fine. You could see it. Once he secured the first set 75, the rest was history. He closed out the match and played well. I still think he's a step slow and he doesn't trust his legs. But if he can keep notching some wins he'll be able to work himself out of it.
In the other matches of the evening, Gilles was able to close out on Kolya in three sets, and Big Berd bombed his way to a straight set win. He'll clash with Rafa tomorrow in what will be a tricky one for Rafa. Then again, they're all feeling a bit tricky these days, no?