2016 Wimbledon player profile: Monica Puig

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After a career-best start to 2016, Monica Puig will look to carry that form into the year’s third and arguably most prestigious Grand Slam, the Wimbledon Championships, Max Gao writes in Vavel.

After her best first half of a season to date, Monica Puig comes into the 2016 Wimbledon Championships in the best form of her career, and currently sits at a career high of number 36 in the world, but how will the Puerto Rican translate her recent form onto the grass courts of SW19, the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club?

Notable Results to Date

Monica Puig certainly hasn’t had it easy. After a rough 2015 season, the Puerto Rican came into 2016 rejuvenated and ready to fight at what she knows best. After failing to qualify for the ASB Classic, Puig made an impressive statement to the rest of the field when, from the qualifying, she made it all the way to the final of the Apia International in Sydney, defeating the likes of Samantha Stosur and Belinda Bencic along the way, before falling to two-time Grand Slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova. From there, she continued that form into the year’s first Grand Slam, the Australian Open, where she scored a pair of impressive wins, before being outclassed by “The Ninja,” fourth-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska.

After struggling to find much consistency in the March-April American hard court swing, the 22-year-old returned to the European red clay, where she was slowly beginning to find her form, match by match. At this year’s French Open, Puig put forth a career-best third round showing in the French capital of Paris, having already reached that stage of the competition in 2013, edged out by 15th-seeded American Madison Keys.

Grass Results Leading Up to Wimbledon

Having struggled on the grass in years past, there was little pressure on Puig to achieve the feats that she did. After a solid run at the French Open, the Puerto Rican made a wonderful transition to the grass, fighting her way into the semifinals of the Aegon Open Nottingham, where she would ultimately fall to eventual championKarolina Pliskova. From there, after a second-round exit at theMallorca Open at the hands of Kirsten Flipkens, the 22-year-old fought through a pair of exceptionally tough qualifying matches at the Aegon International before ripping through the draw, advancing all the way to the semifinals of the Premier-level event. With wins over Caroline Wozniacki and Kristina Mladenovic, Puig comes into this year’s championships with ideal preparation.

Best Wimbledon Result

During her breakthrough year of 2013, Puig went on a hot streak during the middle of the season, advancing to the third round of a major at the French Open on her Grand Slam début, before going one better at Wimbledon, though she certainly didn’t have it her own way. With the odds seemingly stacked against her, the powerful Puerto Rican drew fifth seed and former French Open finalist Sara Errani. However, rankings proved to be only a number as Puig dismantled Errani in straight sets, handing the first of many early round exits for the top seeds. But she didn’t stop there. With two three-set victories over Silvia Soler-Espinosa and Eva Binerova, Puig found herself in the fourth round of a major for the first time and was even one set away from prolonging her stay againstSloane Stephens. However, the American soon turned things around after a titanic second set, ultimately winning 6-1 in the third.

Since then, Puig has yet to win a match at SW19, so she will be looking to change that when she takes on Great Britain’s very ownJohanna Konta, the 16th seed of this year’s championships.

How Puig’s Game Translates to Grass

In the past, Puig’s game had never consistently translated onto the grass until this season, where she has recorded an impressive and career-best 9-3 record on the green lawns in three events.

Generally speaking, big servers and hard-hitters tend to excel on the grass, where the ball’s bounces stay at a minimum and are more unpredictable than any other surface. Up until this season, this hasn’t always been the case for Puig—until now. The Puerto Rican’s significant improvements in both the psychological and physical departments have enabled her to succeed on the grass in recent weeks, and she will be using the powerful game that she possesses to take control and dominate points, even finishing them off at the net if she needs to.

If at her very best, there is no reason why Puig can’t be contending for a spot in the second week at SW19 once again.

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