Puig wins Puerto Rico’s first ever gold medal

By Jake Davies

  • Puerto Rico’s Monica Puig wins the gold medal in the women’s singles
  • Monica Puig defeats [2] Angelique Kerber 6-4 4-6 6-1
  • Petra Kvitova [11] defeats Madison Keys [7] 7-5 2-6 6-2
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Monica Puig defeated World No. 2 and second sed Angelique Kerber to become Puerto Rico’s first female and gold medalist at the Olympics.

 

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Monica Puig defeats [2] Angelique Kerber 6-4 4-6 6-1

Puig created Olympic history as she became the first ever Puerto Rican to win an Olympic gold. Puig held her own against the more experienced No.2 seed and current Australian Open champion Kerber, and displayed some of her best tennis en route to victory in Rio.

Before this week, there had only ever been 8 Olympic medalists from Puerto Rico, with a large portion of their success coming in the boxing event. Puig completely changed the fortune of her country at the Olympic Games by confirming her name as the only female from Puerto Rico to win a medal of any kind in the history of the Games.

Kerber started off strongly in the opening game as she broke the Puerto Rican’s serve at the first time of asking. Puig replied instantly and sent a strong statement that she was not going to be a pushover in this duel. As the match progressed, it became apparent that Puig’s explosive ball-striking was causing the German massive problems throughout.

The match took a swift change in direction with the Puerto Rican taking the first set 6-4. Kerber called the trainer onto court to assess a lower back problem that had hindered her during the closing periods of the first set.

It was an enticing match that displayed ruthless, persistent and heavy striking of the ball opposed to the tireless, defensive play of Angelique Kerber.

Throughout Angelique Kerber’s ascension to the top of the women’s game, we have grown accustomed to her retrieving skills proving a task too far for many on the WTA Tour over the course of a season. In this particular match, Puig’s ferocious shotmaking from both the backhand and forehand, was pushing the German further and further back behind the baseline. Kerber usually finds a way to still be dangerous and impactful from those positions, but Puig’s commitment to her game plan remained unwavering.

Kerber levelled the match for 6-4, but Puig still looked ever-present in the Olympics gold medal match.

The 22-year-old Puerto Rican played the set of her life to go 5-0 up in the third set. She claimed the biggest victory of her career following a game of six deuces as she watched a Kerber backhand miss the court.

This victory marks the Puerto Rican’s first notable title win at the highest of level’s in women’s tennis. Through beating the reigning Australian Open champion, the reigning Roland Garros champion and a two-time Wimbledon champion, Puig has sent a message that she is here to stay in the months and years to come.

Petra Kvitova [11] defeats Madison Keys [7] 7-5 2-6 6-2

The two-time Wimbledon champion has had a disappointing season, but she will be delighted to have a medal to show for her efforts in Rio this week. A second round showing at Wimbledon really emphasised the downward spiral that the Czech was currently on. This was following two poor weeks in Birmingham and Eastbourne, so a bronze medal finish is a welcome arrival for the Kvitova camp.

Keys will be bitterly disappointed to miss out on an Olympic Medal. She beat some good players on the way to the semi-finals, including rising star Daria Kasatkina, Carla Suarez Navarro and Kristina Mladenovic. Keys has to remind herself that, at just 21 years of age, she is putting herself in the positions to compete for the biggest prizes, which is all you can ask for for a professional athlete learning their trade.

Petra Kvitova is the first Czech female to win a medal at the Olympics tennis event since Jana Novotna won the bronze medal at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.

Kvitova is scheduled to compete in the Premier 5 event in Cincinnati next week, where she could face Olympic champion Monica Puig in the second round.

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