Monica Puig staged a comeback from under pressure to secure a first-round 5-7, 6-4, 7-5 win over Anna Karolina Schmiedlova at the 2019 Wimbledon Championships. The Puerto Rican overcame mistakes in the opening set to take down a challenge from Schmiedlova on court four at the All England Tennis Club Monday.
It was her first victory there since 2013, exhibiting some tremendous fight to stay in contention. The two met for the fourth time overall and second time for the season with the Slovak looking for her first win over Puig.
Schmiedlova didn’t get time to play on grass putting her at a disadvantage but the door remined open as Puig failed to record a victory at Eastbourne. While she looked to avoid a sixth straight blowout in the opening round, the 24-year-old hoped to gain a footing in the match and end her losing ways at the championships.
The competition heated up quick with Schmiedlova taking point on serve to hold off Puig and followed it up with an early break. Puig broke back in the third and evened the score at two all with a strong service approach. The Slovak took back the lead and added a second with another break of Puig.
This began a four-game streak of each breaking the other with Schmiedlova leading at 5-4 when the trend broke. After a failed attempt to get away with the set, Schmiedlova watched Puig press out a five-all situation that led to a necessary hold in the 11th game.
With a denial of a critical point to change the tide, the 24-year old broke the Puerto Rican apart in the twelfth game with two set points to stand ahead after 49 minutes. Double faults were a big problem that led to a number of breaks but a stronger return game and less unforced errors led to the big difference in score.
Puig knew that an improvement had to come right from the start of the second and began strong with a break. She consolidated with a hold in the second but couldn’t keep Schmiedlova back in the third.
The Slovak tried to get things level in the fourth by forcing deuce and got it on a double fault followed by an error that thudded into the net. The tide of control changed when the Slovak became the one making mistakes giving Puig a chance to break out. By the sixth game, Puig had a two game gap with a break in hand on Schmiedlova.
They returned to holding serves but the leverage stayed with Puig who kept her two-game margin intact until she completed the set in 45 minutes to setup a pivotal decider. It was clear that Puig’s offense lit up to dictate the second set, gaining 61 percent from the first serve and winning nine of 14 from the second. Committing less unforced errors and more winners was her way to battle hard and see the results come to her advantage.
When the third set got underway, she watched Schmiedlova score big from her own serve . She struggled on serve but was able to break the Slovak for the lead in the third game. Puig continued to widen the gap between her and Schmiedlova gaining another break for a 4-1 stance with the set in reach. Getting through the serve was a difficult task for Puig who erred from her return game to give Schmiedlova chances.
The 25-year old forced deuce but couldn’t put the advantage point away on two attempts. The Slovak gained her opportunities to get it done on the second attempt. With two games separating the players, Schmiedlova tried to reel it in but fell behind on the score during the seventh. She rallied back to take the game and put Puig on the hot seat to recover lost ground.
However, the rush from Schmiedlova paid off to level the score and take a 5-4 lead.
Puig refused to let up on serve and secured her way to forcing a five-all result before converting a break in the eleventh game that gave her a shot at serving for the match.
She left nothing for Schmiedlova to do in the 12th as she herself set up the service game with two match points and put the opening round to bed with a great winner that completed her win in 2 hours and 34 minutes.
With a late surge working to Puig's advantage, she will certainly need to bring about her best game when she faceds third seeded Karolina Pliskova in the second round on Wednesday.