Rio 2016: Monica Puig routs Polona Hercog for maiden Olympic win

Rio 2016: Monica Puig routs Polona Hercog for maiden Olympic win

The Puerto Rican decisively took this first round match, dropping just five games en route to the second round.

john-lupo
John Lupo

Monica Puig began her Olympics with a fine performance, dispatching Polona Hercog 6-3, 6-2 to advance to the second round in Rio. The Puerto Rican played an excellent match, winning 12 of the final 15 games after falling behind 2-0 early to the Slovenian.

Puig falls behind early, recovers to break twice and take the first set

A bit of nerves most likely plagued Puig as she was in her first Olympic games, Hercog breaking to start the match. After consolidating the break with a hold for a 2-0 lead, Puig struck in the Slovenian's next service game, breaking to level the match at 2-2. There were no more break chances for the next three games, but in the eighth game, Puig broke again to take her first lead of the match at 5-3. The Puerto Rican is not blessed with a big serve and Hercog looked for the break back, but Puig was able to serve out the set to 15, taking it in 28 minutes.

Puig quickly fell behind, losing the first two games, but she won six of the next seven to capture the opening set/Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
Puig quickly fell behind, losing the first two games, but she won six of the next seven to capture the opening set/Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Puig breaks twice towards the end of the set to clinch the match and progress to round two

The first opportunity for either player in the second set came in the third game as Hercog fought off two break points to temporarily keep herself out in front. Thatt would turn out to be the last game she would win was Puig rattled off five straight games. She broke to love in the fifth game, held in the sixth game and won the first point of the seventh game, nine straight points seeing the set go from 2-2 to 4-2 Puig. That seventh game, lasting 14 points, also provided the Olympic debutant a cushion, breaking on her third chance and she now assumed a 5-2, double-break lead. She effortlessly served out the match to 15 to wrap up the set in 33 minutes and advance to the second round where she will face 14th seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. The Russian recorded an equally easy victory, defeating Magda Linette.

Puig got off to a better start in the second set
Puig got off to a better start in the second set and broke twice late to take the set and the match to advance/Photo: Steve Bardens/Getty Images
 

Puig takes break chances, awaits Pavlyuchenkova test

Puig is an excellent returner and it showed in this match as she took five of her nine break chances, part of the reason she won this match so decisively. Against Pavlyuchenkova, she faces someone who is talented with the ability to hit most opponents off the court, but inconsistent. This is the first career meeting between the two players.

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