All four quarterfinals looked enticing for many tennis fans as the build up to Wimbledon slowly reached its conclusion. In the first match of the day, Monica Puig fought Kristina Mladenovic in a battle between two players that have enjoyed much success on the grass courts in previous years. Puig came out on top in a thriller.
Monica Puig Battles Through
Mladenovic started the match in tremendous fashion, displaying the array of shots that she regularly expresses on a tennis court. Unfortunately for the French tennis player, she would continuously find herself in winning positions but faltered time after time when obtaining that vital break lead. In the first set, Mladenovic had a break lead on three occasions and also let go of a set point in the tiebreak. Puig would go on to win the first set tiebreak 7-6 (6) in a competitive, high-octane set of tennis on the Centre Court in Eastbourne.
Puig and Mladenovic both won their points very differently on the tennis court. Almost every time Puig gained a stranglehold in the early stages of a rally, she would go on to win the point. Mladenovic, however, benefited in rallies where she could apply the plethora of variations she demonstrates on a court. The one way Mladenovic could exploit limitations in Puig’s game was by preventing the Puert0 Rico native from gaining a great amount of rhythm during the baseline exchanges. Puig regularly fed off the balls that were played with the same pace and the same depth.
Mladenovic couldn’t serve out the second set at 5-3, but in the following game, she broke the Puig serve to level the match. The third set saw Mladenovic trying to incorporate slices to put Puig off, but it appeared to be fruitless for the Frenchwoman. Puig was seeing the ball clearly. When Puig continues to find the court, she’s a very difficult player to stop. Puig faced a lot of break points the whole match but elevated her level in the closing set to take it 6-3 in 2 hours and 43 minutes. It was a classic where both players played their part in a fantastic match.
Quotes And Road Ahead
This is the second time Monica Puig has made the semifinals of a WTA event as a qualifier in 2016. Puig shared her thoughts on what got her through a very difficult match against Mladenovic today.
“I think just staying mentally tough, because we are both, you know, putting so much pressure on each other’s serves. So it was basically about me staying focused and doing what I had to do, which is be as aggressive as I could and just keep my head together.”
Additionally, she expressed whether the fighting spirit she has displayed over her young career so far is through natural experience or from sports psychology.
“Well, the sports psychology part, my team takes care of. My coach and everybody on my team tries to get me mentally prepared for every single type of situation that I’m going to encounter on the court. It comes from within, yes, it does, but I think it just gets stronger due to the experience I have had in the past. You know, I have had several matches where, you know, I have been in the same situation and I have been the softer one and I have caved to the pressure. But now I feel like, you know, I have some of these matches under my belt where I have been in difficult situations and I have been able to pull it out. So experience definitely plays a big part in it, too.”
Puig also acknowledged the enormity of her success at this level in the sport of tennis for her country Puerto Rico.
“Well, it’s a big thing, especially because sports is so big in Puerto Rico. You know, all of the people from Puerto Rico take a lot of pride in their athletes and to people who represent their country with dignity and who are proud to represent their country. So a win like this and how I have been doing this season, everybody is super, super happy. I really like giving that back to them, because, you know, Puerto Rico has been full of not-so-positive news as of late.”
Monica Puig is the first of the players into the semifinals of the Aegon International, her third semifinal of 2016 following her outstanding results in Sydney and Nottingham.