Monica Puig will have no problems tempering her expectations in a couple of weeks at the Credit One Bank Invitational, the largest-scale professional tennis tournament to take place since the sport effectively shut down in early March. Simply playing is enough for the Puerto Rican.
“Charleston is definitely my favorite spot on tour,” said Puig, a semifinalist at last year's Volvo Car Open in Charleston. “It’s such a beautiful place. I’ve always done pretty well there, [so] it has my heart.”
From the sounds of her interview with Brett Haber and fellow Olympic gold medalist Lindsay Davenport on Tuesday night’s edition of Tennis Channel Live, Puig's right elbow is recovering well. The 2016 Olympic gold medalist hasn't played a professional match since last October, due to injury.
“Having to miss the first part of the season was heartbreaking, especially the Australian Open,” Puig said. “Thankfully the past two weeks I’ve been able to play with no pain which is huge for me just six months post-operation.”
Chris Smith/Volvo Car Open
When Puig played Charleston last year, she was excellent, punishing Sofia Kenin, Aryna Sabalenka and Danielle Collins in straight sets, before falling to eventual champion Madison Keys. Having grown up in South Florida, Puig was no stranger to the tournament's green clay surface, and felt right at home.
But right now, Puig is just thrilled to be healthy once again and on the verge of serious competition.
Puig’s level, like everyone else competing on June 23 in South Carolina, remains a mystery. But don’t expect Puig to get pushed around by her competition. It’s unwise to underestimate the inspirational power of a favorite tournament venue.