By Tucker Verdi
Tennis is a game of momentum. The can pendulum swing back and forth between two players battling it out on the court no matter how the match had gone up until then.
Never was that more apparent than late last night on Stadium Court.
World No. 2 Caroline Wozniacki, the reigning Australian Open champion, broke all three of her opponent’s service games to capture the first set 6-0. It took 25 minutes and it appeared the match, which didn’t start until almost 10:30pm, would be a quick one.
But her opponent was Monica Puig, and Puig had something else in mind.
The 24-year-old Puerto Rican knows a little something about gritting it out to defy the odds. She had a masterful run a little less than two years ago at the Rio Olympics with wins over Grand Slam champs Garbine Muguruza, Petra Kvitova, and Angelique Kerber en route to the first gold medal for her country.
Puig, who calls the Miami Open her hometown event, pushed the Danish superstar on the opening service game in the second set, making it clear she wasn’t going away easy. The critical break for Puig came at 2-all, and she held on for a tough 6-4 second set win.
The pendulum had swung and the improbable suddenly seemed possible as the crowd that had stuck around following Puig’s bagel in the first set came to life and cheered the fiery player on.
Wozniacki had put on a clinical in the first set, but Puig seemed to feed off the new energy and hit powerful winner after winner down both sidelines.
The crowd favorite broke Wozniacki’s opening serve in the third, and then took a 4-1 lead before the former World No. 1 broke back. But a ball off the net as Puig attempted to serve out the match provided her the opportunity to smash a forehand at an open court and seal a most unlikely victory.
Puig attributes her success to something called “Pica Power.” Her identity is defined by her heritage, something she embraces as the only Puerto Rican player on tour.
There’s no doubt that “Pica Power” helped her engineer this come-from-behind win. In a draw where anything can happen and a lot already has, don’t underestimate “Pica Power” taking Puig a lot further.