Monica Puig defeated reigning Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber 6-4 4-6 6-1 in the final of the Rio Olympic Games to become the first athlete, male or female, from Puerto Rico to win a gold medal. The 22-year-old has also become the first woman from her country to win a medal at the Olympics. The silver medal went to Puig’s victim in the final, Germany’s Kerber, while bronze will be taken to the Czech Republic by Petra Kvitova.
The second-ranked Kerber opened the gold medal match by breaking her opponent’s serve, but the world No.34 Puig broke back right away and continued to have the upper hand all the way till the end, confidently winning the first set 6-4. Being way more aggressive and consistent than in their last meeting in Toronto in 2015, Puig dominated the first set, although Kerber did seem troubled by some health problem, the issue that started in the fifth game of the match, and after the set she took a medical timeout.
The second set started by Kerber’s break of Puig’s serve, just like in the first set, but this time the German took hold of it and established a 2-0 lead. At 3-1 for Kerber in the second set, Puig already made six unforced errors, while in the entire first set she committed only eight. Even though Puig’s level improved in the continuation of the set and the Puerto Rican leveled to 4-all, Kerber broke again and took the match to a thrilling decider.
Absolutely relaxed, Puig marched to a 5-0 lead in the third set, as Kerber looked totally frustrated. At 5-1, Puig served for victory and climbed back from 40-0 down to eventually hold serve and record an unbelievable result for herself, her country and women’s tennis.
In the fight for the bronze medal, which preceded the final, Czech Petra Kvitova handed American Madison Keys a heartbreaking loss. Keys wasted two set points in the first set, while Kvitova recovered from losing four straight games in the second set and raced to a 4-0 lead in the decider, which quickly turned into a 7-5 2-6 6-2 victory. (photos: Jimmie48)