A report by Shane Kristopher Lambert for Blasting News.
#Monica Puig, the Rio Olympic gold medalist, knows who she will face at the 2017 #WTA Brisbane event. Puig, who beat Maria Sharapova earlier in December in an exhibition match, will face #Elina Svitolina in a battle of two players that each still have time on their side on the women’s tour. Both players are in their early 20s and both will be gunning for a solid run in Brisbane to prepare for the 2017 Australian Open. On head to heads, so far there is nothing between them, but that will change before the conclusion of Brisbane’s first round.
Puig beat Svitolina last time
The two players have bumped into one another twice before in what promises to be a significant head-to-head series in the years ahead. In 2016, Puig defeated Svitolina on clay in the early going of Rome. That match went three sets with the eventual Olympic champ winning 6-1 in the third. Svitolina, who has blossomed quicker and may be the better talent, won an Indian Wells match in straight sets in 2014.
The match is interesting, because they are certainly two players that each have a chance at a Top-10 finish in the 2017 season. Puig is currently ranked 32nd in the world, but a big part of that is the fact that her Rio win did not bring ranking points. Svitolina finished 2016 ranked 14th in the world and her Top-10 potential is very clear after a season that saw her beat Johanna Konta, Angelique Kerber, Garbine Muguruza (x2), and Serena Williams, all players currently ranked in the Top 10.
Svitolina has room for growth
Svitolina did not enjoy a good South Pacific swing last season, however that does mean she has a tremendous upside to this season. If she can nab some wins in Brisbane and then do well at the Australian Open, Svitolina might be in the Top 10 when the post-Aussie rankings come around.
Puig is more about defending ranking points at this point in her season. She didn’t do well in Auckland last year to open the season, but before the 2016 Aussie she made the Sydney final. Ahead of Melbourne Park 2017, Puig actually has 340 ranking points to defend, a substantial amount for a player ranked 32nd. A couple match losses to open the season might see Puig ranked outside of the Top 32 soon and unseeded at the Aussie. When the two players will play is still pending. However, it does promise to be one of the better matches in the first round of a low-tiered tournament.