Monica Puig overcame the scorching Australian heat and Magdalena Rybarikova to book her place in the second round of the 2016 Apia Sydney International, defeating the Slovak 6-2, 3-6, 6-4 in a few minutes shy of the two hour mark. Puig will now play Anna Karolina Schmiedlova, who outlasted sixth seed Timea Bacsinszky in three sets on Sunday.
Puig Races Through Opening Set
Right from the off, Puig's intentions were clear. Against a big server like Rybarikova, she needed to get off to a great start, and that's exactly what she did. Breaking to open proceedings in this first round encounter, the Puerto Rican number one looked in cruise control of the match, breaking and consolidating two more breaks of serve. Suddenly, in les than 20 minutes, she was serving for the set with a 5-0 lead. Rybarikova, however, managed to mount some late resistance to avoid the bagel, breaking Puig in the following game before holding a lengthy five-minute service game. Suddenly, the pressure was right back on the shoulders of Puig. But this time, she made no mistake, successfully serving out the opening set 6-2 in just under half an hour.
Rybarikova Clinches Decisive Break Early, Forces a Decider
Desperate to gain some momentum, Rybarikova opened the second set with another hold of serve. As the match progressed, her confidence blossomed. Matching Puig shot-for-shot from the back of the court, it was only a matter of time until she broke the Puerto Rican number one for a second time, thus opening up an early 2-0 lead. From there, both women continued to cruise in their respective service games, never giving one another many chances to create any break points, let alone get another break of serve. As a result, Rybarikova would go on to serve out the second set with relative ease, converting her first set point to win the second set 6-3.
Puig Comes from a Break Down to Seal Dramatic Victory
Continuing right where she left off to begin the decider, Rybarikova clinched yet another break of serve, and looked on course for a hard-fought, three set victory. However, as many avid WTA fans know, the momentum of a match can swing at the snap of a finger - and Puig did just that. Finally ceasing her opportunities when they presented themselves in the sixth game, the 22-year-old restored parity shortly after recovering the early break. In the game that followed, Puig quickly went down 0-40, consequently giving Rybarikova three chances to regain the early advantage. However, Puig, who was not prepared to let this encounter slip away so quickly from her grasp, saved all three break points and would go on to hold for a 4-3 lead. From there, the pair exchanged holds before the Slovak was forced to serve to stay in the match, trailing 4-5. That was when Puig pounced. Swinging freely against a clearly uptight Rybarikova, the Puerto Rican number one strung together a couple of crucial points to give herself two match points. After missing out on her first opportunity, Puig made no mistake on her second, sealing a hard-fought 6-2, 3-6, 6-4 a few minutes shy of the two hour mark.