Rio de Janeiro, Aug 13, 2016: Puig makes history, Monica Puig won Puerto Rico’s first-ever gold medal at an Olympic Games after defeating Germany’s Angelique Kerber 6-4 4-6 6-1 in the women’s singles final on Saturday.
The Puerto Rican blasted 54 winners in an extraordinary display of tennis on the Centre Court at Barra Olympic Park to write her name into both her country’s and the Olympic’s history books.
“It’s just amazing,” said Puig. “I know my country really appreciates this, and I really wanted to give this victory to them. The way that I did it tonight, I wouldn’t want it any other way.
“I know that my life is probably going to change a little bit from here on out, but it’s going to change for the better I know.
“It was inevitable to block out the noise going on in the stadium. What I did hear everybody saying is, ‘Yes, you can, yes, you can, yes, you can’. I kept repeating it inside myself, ‘Yes, I can, yes, I can, yes, I can’.
“It helped me believe and show me they were there for me whether I was going to win or lose. I was so proud of the support I had out there tonight.”
The match started with a pair of breaks on both players’ serves as nerves seemed to play their part in what was a first Olympic final for each contender.
But Puig was the quicker to settle into her rhythm and she proceeded to produce some fantastic winners from all areas of the court.
Kerber called for the trainer at the end of the first set and even left the stage to receive attention for what looked to be some kind of back injury.
On resumption in the second set, though, it was the German who made the better of the early running and she managed to keep her nose ahead to force a decider.
There was only one winner from there as Puig raced to a 5-0 lead but it looked like there might be one more twist in the tale as the last two games combined saw the Puerto Rican falter on match point three times, with Kerber squandering six break point chances in the final game alone.
But on the fourth attempt to lay her hands on a first gold medal for her country, Puig forced her opponent into an error and cried with sheer disbelief when the ball went wide.
Puig is the first unseeded woman to win an Olympic gold medal in tennis and she has done so by taking out three Grand Slam champions – Garbine Muguruza, Petra Kvitova and Angelique Kerber.
It seems only fitting to leave her to have the final words: “I just achieved one of my biggest dreams. I’m just so happy I was able to be the first Puerto Rican woman to win a medal at the Games, and not just any medal… the gold medal.” —- ITF
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