WTA Nottingham: Monica Puig downs Michelle Larcher de Brito in straight sets

Fourth seed Monica Puig notched her second week of the 2016 grass season on a pleasant Wednesday afternoon, downing Portuguese qualifier Michelle Larcher de Brito 6-4, 6-0 in just 58 minutes to book her place in the quarterfinals, where she will meet lucky loser Tamira Paszek

Early Break Proves Decisive for Puig

In a match that was inevitably going to be dictated by the player who was able to consistently get the first strike, it was the fourth seed Puerto Rican who got off to the brighter start, breaking straight away to open proceedings in this second-round encounter. However, after squandering a pair of game points in the opening game, Larcher de Brito responded with a vengeance, earning herself a break point to recover the early break. However, Puig—who had yet to be broken all-week—responded with some thunderous hitting of her own, denying the qualifier to get back on serve en route to holding for 2-0. Looking to reduce the two-game deficit to just the single game and break of serve, Larcher de Brito made no mistake this time around; a comprehensive hold keeping her in touch with Puig to just the single break.

Michelle Larcher de Brito hits a forehand during her second round match at the 2016 Aegon Open Nottingham against Monica Puig. | Photo: Jon Buckle/Getty Images Europe
Michelle Larcher de Brito hits a forehand during her second-round match at the 2016 Aegon Open Nottingham against Monica Puig. | Photo: Jon Buckle/Getty Images Europe
 

This trend continued for the remainder of the opening set as both players had their fair share of chances to earn the elusive break, though the server was able to come up with the goods time and time again. As a result, this trend would ultimately result in a streak of nine holds in succession, with Puig coolly and calmly serving out the opening set 6-4 at the first bite of the cherry.

“Pica” Powers Through Second Set, Books Place in Quarterfinals

After a tightly-contested opening set, the second began much like the first; an early break putting the Puerto Rican a set and a break to the good. From there, a 1-0 lead quickly stretched to a 3-0 lead in favour of the world number 49 as shortly after consolidating the early break, Puig’s persistence was eventually rewarded with a second break of serve to put herself in the driver’s seat of this second-round encounter. After an emphatic hold at love, Puig further solidified her dominance with her fourth break of the match; this one putting her within a game of a berth in the last eight, a set and 5-0 to the good. With Larcher de Brito unable to consistently and effectively counter the brute force behind Puig’s groundstrokes, the Puerto Rican took full advantage, needing just the single match point to close out a comprehensive 6-4, 6-0 victory just moments later.

Monica Puig celebrates after winning a point during her second round match at the 2016 Aegon Open Nottingham against Michelle Larcher de Brito. | Photo: Jon Buckle/Getty Images Europe
Monica Puig celebrates after winning a point during her second-round match at the 2016 Aegon Open Nottingham against Michelle Larcher de Brito. | Photo: Jon Buckle/Getty Images Europe
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Puig to Meet Paszek Next

After dropping just six games in two matches, Puig will now meet lucky loser Tamira Paszek, who led Magdalena Rybarikova by a set and 3-1 before the Slovak was forced to throw in the towel, citing a right knee injury. Coming into this match, Puig and Paszek have split their two prior meetings with the Puerto Rican winning their first match in Cincinnati in 2014 before the Austrian got her revenge earlier this year in Auckland.

With Puig playing some of the best tennis of her career and Paszek beginning to find some of the form that got her to two Wimbledon quarterfinals, this could prove to be quite the encounter.

 
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