WTA Eastbourne third round preview: Monica Puig vs Caroline Wozniacki

Monica Puig and Caroline Wozniacki will battle on Center Court to open up Wednesday’s Aegon International third round action. The feisty Puerto Rican and the returning Dane looked strong in their matches thus far in Eastbourne, but only one will advance to the quarterfinal stage. For Puig, it would mean reaching her first quarterfinal in Eastbourne. But for the Wozniacki, it would mean reaching their sixth Aegon International quarterfinal in eight years.

Road to the third round

Unlike Wozniacki, Puig has played four matches on the divine grass of Eastbourne already this week. The 22-year-old opened up her tournament campaign with a 7-6(5), 7-6(5) win over a British talent in Freya Christie. Puig continued on to qualify for the main draw after clinching a three-set win over Denisa Allertova. The qualifier then booked herself a match with yet another Brit, Naomi Broady. Puig needed exactly an hour to convincingly knock out the wild card after dropping just two games to Broady. With three matches under her belt, Puig led a fellow qualifier in Ana Konjuh 6-1, 5-3 before the Croat bowed out due to an injury.

Wozniacki has played half as many matches as her Puerto Rican opposition. The top-ranked Danish kicked off her journey at the Aegon International in impressive fashion with a routine win over grass-court accomplisher Alize Cornet. The former world number one went on to outclass Samantha Stosur, and with her 6-2, 6-1 win she set up an enticing third round encounter with the world number 43.

Wozniacki hits a forehand in WTA Eastbourne action. Photo: Steve Bardens/Getty Images
Wozniacki hits a forehand in WTA Eastbourne action. Photo: Steve Bardens/Getty Images

Previous encounter between the pair

Puig and Wozniacki have yet to face each other more than on one occasion. They went head-to-head in the second round of the Miami Open back in 2014. The Dane leads the Puerto Rican one win to love after sealing a three-set victory in Miami more than two years ago. They have never met on grass before, but as expected, it should be a battle until the end with both of their styles matching up perfectly on the slick, fast surface.

Puig pumps herself up in Nottingham. Photo: Jon Buckle/Getty Images
Puig pumps herself up in Nottingham. Photo: Jon Buckle/Getty Images

Analysis

The qualifier’s fearless groundstrokes and Wozniacki’s willingness to be aggressive makes for a must-watch, hard-hitting battle on Wednesday. Puig has always been known for her aggression and power, and over time and experience, she has gained confidence and consistency as it shows in her results this season. On the other hand, the Dane has always been known to be the player who makes her opponent hit the extra ball with superb anticipation and shot-placement. But this week, the 2009 Aegon International Champion has shown her capability of being deadly off of more shots than just her backhand. Wozniacki has displayed signs of moving into the net, as well as being in demand when she steps up to serve. The world number 37 has been broken just once in 16 service games in her opening on rounds. With both players’ increased aggression, the matchup makes for a brilliant grass-court match. Both players possess strong serves and depth off of both wings, not to mention both of their return games. Ultimately, whoever can be more patient and wait for the perfect offensive ball will move into the final eight.

Wozniacki hits a backhand during her win over Stosur. Photo:  Steve Bardens/Getty Images
Wozniacki hits a backhand during her win over Stosur. Photo:  Steve Bardens/Getty Images 

Final thoughts

Yours truly predicts a Wozniacki victory on day three of the Aegon International. Her form heading into her third round encounter, confidence in Eastbourne, and her consistency shall be too much for the feisty Puerto Rican to handle.

Prediction: Wozniacki in straight sets 

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