Monica Puig wins Puerto Rico’s first ever gold medal with an epic performance
Puerto Rico’s Monica Puig beat Angelique Kerber of Germany in the women’s singles final to win a first ever gold medal for Puerto Rico and announce the arrival of a new star in the sport.
Puig, who was unseeded beat Kerber 6-4, 4-6, 6-1 with relentless pressure and an intensity that the world number two was ultimately unable to match.
The Puerto Rican entered the tournament with just one WTA singles title to her name, she won the 2014 Internationaux de Strasbourg and on paper, the result appears to be a huge shock. However, her form this week has been a revelation.
Puig demanded attention after her third round pummelling of World Number 3 Garbine Muguruza, administering a pair of breadsticks to the highly touted French Open champion en route to a 6-1, 6-1 victory. She proved it wasn’t a fluke by grinding out a tough semi-final victory over in-form, two-time Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova 6-4, 1-6, 6-3. The final was always going to be a close call, although it’s safe to say Kerber was the favourite.
Puig took the opening stanza 6-4 to ensure that her opponent would at least have to go the distance for the first time in her Olympic campaign. Kerber, always a very tough competitor responded by taking the second on the same scoreline.
Puig played intense aggressive tennis, crushing the ball at will and putting Kerber under huge pressure. The tactic would reap rewards in the third set, with Kerber beginning to falter under the attack. Puig burst into a 5-0 lead, although contrary to the scoreboard, some of the games were lengthy and hard fought.
Kerber finally got on the scoreboard and then held break points at 1-5 including a putaway overhead which she dumped into the net. Puig finally sealed the match after a string of match points to make Olympic history.
Kerber had fought to the bitter end as she worked to give Germany its first gold in the women’s singles since Steffi Graf took the Olympic crown in 1988, but returns to Bremen with a silver medal for her efforts.
A historic day for Puerto Rico.
“I”m speechless, I wanted it so bad.” said Puig after the match. “I never imagined in my wildest dreams that this would happen, I know my life is going to change a bit.”
In the bronze medal match, Czech Petra Kvitova defeated American Madison Keys 7-5 2-6 6-2.