So, we’re about seven hours into the French Open, and the first big upset of the tournament is in the books: Monica Puig, the 19-year-old from Puerto Rico playing in her first Grand Slam, has taken out No. 11 seed Nadia Petrova 3-6, 7-5, 6-4.
The Twitter world was excited:
— Kevin Fischer (@Kfish_WTA) May 26, 2013
Monica Puig, 1st Puerto Rican woman in a main draw since 2007, beats No. 11 Petrova. Signs so many autographs you’d think she had won title.
— Tom Perrotta (@TomPerrotta) May 26, 2013
It should be noted that Monica Puig’s preferred way of celebrating is to lie down and stick her legs in the air.Mazel Tov!
— Chris P (@scoobschris) May 26, 2013
Monica Puig collapses in melodramatic disbelief as she wins her first French Open!!!!!!!!!!!….MATCH #calmdowngirl
— Jason (@Hurley_LLC) May 26, 2013
— Monica Puig (@MonicaAce93) May 26, 2013
@judmoo thanks!!!! We need to eat cake soon!
— Monica Puig (@MonicaAce93) May 26, 2013
Puig was in Charleston this year, as was I, and I could not have been more impressed with her. I’ve actually been meaning to do a quick blog on the fabulous press conference she gave after losing to Venus Williams, so I figured this was the perfect time.
I loved her supreme confidence, her bubbly attitude, and how relaxed she seemed with herself. She’s a girl I probably would have hated in high school for all of those reasons, but her attitude will suit her really well on the WTA Tour. Here are some of the highlights:
On her progress:
I mean, I’m not losing 6-0, 6-0, 6-1, 6-2, you know, I’m pushing these girls to the limit and I think as I mature and my game gets better some of these matches may turn out in my favor.
But I mean, I like the clay. You put me on any surface and I’ll adapt to it fast. I mean, you have to if you want to be a great player, you have to learn on every single surface and win on every single surface so it’s okay with me.
On adjusting her expectations:
I don’t think I should, because honestly it’s just a matter of time before things start falling into place. I feel it. I know that, I mean I’m not afraid of coming against these girls at all today. Before, I mean coming out of the juniors and playing a match like I would have tonight, I think I would have been scared out of my mind, a lot of nerves.
But today I was very relaxed and that’s the kind of feeling I want to have, you know, just a relaxed feeling knowing that I’m going to go out there and do my best. And I still need to go back out and work on a couple things, but I know I’m on the right track.
Well, it really came about when in Spanish you would use picar, and that’s kind of like grind it out, you know, pick away at the stone until it’s not perfect, you keep picking away, you keep picking away. And, you know, I just got ‘pica’ out of there and just it really stuck with me.
And then I just started developing it into #picapower which I use now and, you know, a lot of people are getting used to it. A lot of people are calling me Pica for now. So it’s really nice. And I mean, I just hope that continues and gets bigger because I really like it so much.
On Puerto Rico vs. the United States:
If I had a choice of being USA and Puerto Rican, I think I would still stick with Puerto Rico because it’s so, I mean, being the only one from that country, it makes me feel really special that I’m able to play tennis for the island and just be recognized as a top figure over there.
On her reputation:
I hear in the locker room sometimes the girls, they don’t know I’m there, and then they are like, “Who are you playing?” “Monica Puig.” And they are like, ‘Oh, God, she is tough.’ So I’m giving that type of like reputation to myself.
The only thing is that sometimes the relationship … with the girls, not the men, you beat the player they are not your friend anymore …
It’s like, okay, you are going to be mad at me because of this time that I won and, you know. I mean, you are going to win some, you are going to lose some. But why throw something special away because of a match? So, don’t really have those friends anymore.
It was kind of sad. But, you know, I have my friends which is my team and, you know, I have a little stuffed pig that I travel with all the time. So he is my best friend no matter what.
On her popularity in Puerto Rico:
I’m out on the streets, and people will stop me and say, “Can I have your autograph, can we take picture with you?” In Puerto Rico, since the sports are very big, I’m a pretty big public figure over there.
And it’s kind of nice, because I mean it shows that people are paying attention to what you are doing and there is a lot of people who support you. I mean, today I had about like 10,000 twitter messages saying that we are going to be watching the match, good luck and everything. So I was like really excited.
On soaking up the attention:
Oh, yeah, I like it. I like the support. I like the attention, you know. I’m very bubbly. I’m going to be friends with everyone. I always like to talk to whoever it is, if they stop to talk to me, I’m going to stop to talk to them.
It’s just who I am. It’s how I was brought up. So I’m never going to give anybody the cold shoulder. That’s just the way I am.
Oh, and she bothers Robin Haase AND talks to Ricky Martin on the phone. So she wins:
@robin_haase hahaha hey! I throw away your trash and hold your racquets! I think u should!
— Monica Puig (@MonicaAce93) May 2, 2013
— Monica Puig (@MonicaAce93) April 4, 2013
Puig gets the winner of Keys/Doi next round, so she has a chance to continue her great run in Paris!