Reigning Olympic Champion Monica Puig Opens Up About Depression Battle - UBITENNIS
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Reigning Olympic Champion Monica Puig Opens Up About Depression Battle

The former top-30 player reveals the struggles she experienced after winning the biggest title of her career to date.

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Monica Puig (photo by Nicole Gotwols from Miami Open Marketing)

This summer will mark the fourth anniversary of Monica Puig’s biggest achievement in her professional life, but it came at a cost.

 

At the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, the Puerto Rican was unseeded in the women’s draw with few predicting her to become the champion. Nevertheless, she defied the odds with wins over Garbine Muguruza, Petra Kvitova and Angelique Kerber en route to the title. The achievement elevated Puig to the limelight and made her a national hero back home. Puig became Puerto Rico’s first ever Olympic champion.

“When I’m fine, I’m not afraid to compete with anyone. You put Serena [Williams] in front, I will respect her, but I value myself and I know I can beat him. In that week I believed that in every game I had a chance to win.” Puig said during an interview with the La Nacion newspaper.

Unfortunately the success soon took its toll on Puig, who is now 26. She hasn‘t won any other tournament since then with her only final appearance occurring at the 2017 Luxemburg Open. She has been able to maintain her place in the top 100, but is now in danger of dropping out after falling to a current position of 87th.

As questions mounted over her inability to capitalise on success from 2016, Puig was dealing with her own demons in secret. Revealing that the expectation that was placed on her shoulders following the Olympics soon triggered a battle with depression.

“My last three years have been dark. I didn’t have a focus. I was very entangled in a lot of things and I neglected myself. I didn’t pay attention to valuable things or those that interested me; I just pleased others.” She revealed.
“I stopped going out with friends and family. I was always on the phone and reading comments on social networks, which I did pay attention to. I could have fifteen positive messages, but I read only one negative and that sank me. I was too bad.”

Puig has overcome her struggles with the help of those around her, but it hasn’t been easy. When asked by La Nacion if she sought help from a psychiatrist, she said it was difficult before she is ‘learning to express herself better and trust healthy people.’

“I want to be very sincere, because I know that athletes serve as an image for youth and I want them to know that it is not all rosy.”

Despite her problems on and off the court, the former world No.27 has no intention of ending her career yet. So far she has scored seven wins over top-10 opposition, including Aryna Sabalenka last year. The women’s tour has been renowned for its inconsistency in recent time. Highlight by the last 10 grand slam events being won by eight different players. However, Puig has her own theory.

“There are different talents: there are some that play flatter, others with which they hit you with a top, others that have different shots.” She explained. 
“There are young people with incredible results, like Coco Gauff, who plays without fear, or like Sofia Kenin, who competes very well. Both may be losing but they don’t give you opportunities to lower the level.’
The current women’s tennis is very interesting. And there are very offensive players, the points are finished in two or three shots. Men’s tennis is nice to see because they build the point more, it’s like a story they tell. In women, the story ends quickly. It is different, but very funny.

This week will see Puig returning to action for the first time since having elbow surgery. She underwent the procedure to resolve a compressed ulnar nerve. Her first tournament is the Oracle Challenger Series, which is a WTA 125 event. She will be seeded 11th in the draw.

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Simona Halep ‘Happy To Be Back’ Amid Uncertainty Over US Open Plans

The Romanian still has reservations about her future plans after taking her first international flight in five months.

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World No.2 Simona Halep admits the prospect of travelling from Europe to America will be ‘mentally tough’ as she ponders whether or not to play at the US Open.

 

The reigning Wimbledon champion is set to return to competitive tennis in the Czech Republic where she will play her first tournament in five months at the Prague Open. Halep was originally due to make her return in Palermo but withdrew from the event due to ‘travelling anxiety’ despite being assured she wouldn’t have to go through quarantine. Speculation has mounted in recent weeks about if the Romanian would travel to the US Open later this year with the 28-year-old confirming she will make her final decision after Prague.

“I haven’t made the final decision yet,” AFP quoted Halep as telling reporters during a virtual press conference on Sunday.
“The travelling from Europe is a little bit tough with changing flights — we don’t have straight flights — so it’s going to be tough for me personally, mentally,” she told a video conference.
“I don’t want to put myself into that stress. As I said I haven’t decided yet, but the conditions are tough for me at this moment.”

Three members of the top 10 on the women’s Tour have already pulled out of the New York major, which will be played behind closed doors for the first time in history. Ash Barty, Kiki Bertens and Elina Svitolina have all withdrawn from the major due to concerns. In comparison, only one member of the top 10 on the men’s Tour, Rafael Nadal, has withdrawn specifically related to COVID-19 concerns.

Prague is Halep’s first international trip after being in lockdown in Romania since February. A country which reported 1,378 new coronavirus cases and 50 new related deaths on Friday in what was their highest 24-hour figure since the pandemic began.

“I’m a bit nervous but things are very controlled here and very safe so I feel safe,” she said upon arrival in the Czech capital.
“I’m happy to be back, I’m happy to be healthy.”

It will be double duty for Halep in Prague. Besides being the top seed in the singles draw, she will also be playing the doubles alongside local favourite Barbora Strycova. Who reached the semi-final of Wimbledon last year before losing to Serena Williams. It is the first time ever the two are playing alongside each other on the Tour.

“I’m sure we will have fun. I’m sure that she will understand if I miss easy balls at the net, and I hope we’ll enjoy it.” Halep commented on their collaboration.

Halep will start her singles campaign against Slovenia’s Polona Hercog.

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Simona Halep to face Polona Hercog in the first round in Prague

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Simona Halep will make her come-back to the court next week at the Prague Open. The Prague Open will feature six top 30 players. 

 

Halep will play her first match in six months. It will be her first appearance at the International-level tournament. The 2019 Wimbledon champion claimed her 20th career title in Dubai last February. The Romanian player saved a match point against Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur in the second round and came back from a set down in her win over Elena Rybakina in the final. 

The Main Draw of the Prague Open was released on Saturday. Halep will start her Prague campaign against Slovenia’s Polona Hercog. In the second round the winner of the match between Halep and Hercog will meet either Patricia Maria Tig or Barbora Krejicikova. The other top seeds are Petra Martic, Elise Mertens, Dayana Yastremska and Ekaterina Alexandrova. 

Halep has announced that she will not travel to New York for the US Open. 

“I don’t know yeti f I will go to America. In the current situation, I will not go there !. Health is the most important and no one can judge anybody when they make a personal decision. I wished a lot for the tournaments to start. I am a little stressed out, but I think it will be fine. I took the test and got the negative result yesterday. A Case can appear from anywhere, but I don’t want to think negatively. I want to see the good side and the fact that we can play tournaments. Maybe I wasn’t prepared mentally. Now I am feeling better, so I am 100% convinced that I can play. I am happy to be in Prague and let’s enjoy it”, said Halep. 

In the bottom half of the draw number 2 seed and world number 15 Petra Martic from Croatia will play against Russia’s Varvara Gracheva. Martic lost to Anett Kontaveit in the semifinal in Palermo this week. The winner of the match between Martic and Gracheva will face either Krystina Pliskova or 15-year-old Linda Fruvirtova. 

Number 3 seed Elise Mertens will take on Italy’s Jasmine Paolini. The winner of this match will face either this week’s Palermo semifinalist Camila Giorgi or a qualifier. 

Number 4 seed Dayana Yastremska, who reached the quarter final in Palermo, will meet Romania’s Irina Camelia Begu. The top 30 entries is rounded out by Ekaterina Alexandrova and Anastasya Pavlyuchenkova. 

Barbora Strycova will take on Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo in the first round. 

The other top Czech players in the field are Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova. 

Former Wimbledon finalist Eugenie Bouchard from Canada will face Veronika Kudemertova from Russia. 

The Prague Open will be held behind closed doors. 

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Fiona Ferro beats Camila Giorgi to set up final against Anett Kontaveit

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France’s Fiona Ferro came back from one set down to beat Italy’s Camila Giorgi 2-6 6-2 7-5 reaching her first final of the season at the Ladies Open in Palermo. Ferro sets up a final against Anett Kontaveit, who beat top seed Petra Martic 6-2 6-4. 

 

Giorgi broke twice in a row to open up a 4-0 lead and saved three break points before holding serve for 5-0. Ferro pulled one break back, when Giorgi was serving for the first set. Giorgi sealed the opening set 6-2 with her third break in the eighth game. 

Ferro earned an early break in the first game of the second set and held her serve after saving two break points to open up a 2-0 lead. Ferro went up a double break in the fifth game to race out to a 4-1 lead, but Giorgi got one break back for 2-4. Ferro broke again in the seventh game and served out the second set 6-2. 

Giorgi dropped her serve in the third game of the second set and saved a break point in the fifth game. Giorgi broke back in the 10th game, as Ferro was serving for the match at 5-4. Ferro broke serve in the 11th game and served out the win on her second match point. 

Giorgi was aiming to become the first Italian player to reach the final in Palermo since Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci battled for the title in 2013. Ferro is unbeaten in all her four post-lockdown matches on the WTA Tour.

Ferro beat an Italian opponent for the second evening in a row one day after her win over Sara Errani. 

“I would have never won those matches two years ago. I used to focus on my opponent when she was playing aggressive, and I did not find solutions. Today I am very happy to be through because I managed to focus more on my game and not on my emotions”, said Ferro.

“I have no regrets. I felt in good shape and I tried to play my own game. The break in the third set made the difference”, said Giorgi.

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