Monica Puig always had the game to compete with the best players on the WTA - but based on her week at the Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open, she now has a mentality to match.
The Puerto Rican scored a second victory over Australian Open champion Caroline Wozniacki this season in Wednesday's round of 16, reaching the biggest WTA quarterfinal of her career.
The Rio gold medalist's late-season surge came after a period of uncertainy and mixed results - some of which was directly related to a right hip injury that plagued her spring and forced her to withdraw from the French Open in May.
Injury troubles compounded a difficult period for the World No.51, who had been candid with her internal struggle to replicate the kind of tennis which took her to the top of the podium at the 2016 Olympics in a historic first for Puerto Rico.
"I've had a couple difficult months with the injury this year, having to take some time off. It wasn't really exactly the best time, especially missing a Grand Slam. I feel like in a way it helped me reset, refocus, get back to 100 percent playing physically, tennis-wise, everything. I just feel like everything is right where it's supposed to be. I just want to continue to get better every day," she said.
"I feel like since Rio, I think I let the pressure get to me, all the expectation and everything. I was really trying to press a lot, not really feeling comfortable with myself, not really believing in what I had, and what I could do out there on the court."
"What I've been trying to work on is having the right intentions day in, day out, doing everything right, including the little things on and off the court, being really disciplined...My lesson from Rio has been learned. I'm not going to let this get to me in any way. I'm just going to continue to put my head down, continue to work, do those little things and big things right, focus on the process."
That process has yielded results for the Puerto Rican: her win over Wozniacki on Wednesday in Wuhan was her third Top 10 win of the season, and her appearance in the upcoming quarterfinals at the Premier 5 event will be her biggest match at an event of that caliber or higher since her golden moment in Rio.
Her match against wildcard Wang Qiang will be Puig's fourth quarterfinal of the season, as she also reached the semifinals at the Premier event in New Haven, and the last eight at International events in Quebec City and Monterrey.
In addition, she added a fourth gold medal to her mantle - and a third at the Central American and Caribbean Games - earlier this summer.
Read more: Puig rides Barranquilla boost in New Haven
"When I went to New Haven, the click just happened," she said. "I just felt like I was starting to come into my own again. Hopefully, I can continue this path, continue to win more matches. It's a really good feeling after the rocky road that I've had...Every tournament that I go to, I try to see it like another tournament. I know in terms and everything, it's a Premier 5, all of this, a huge tournament.
"It's just a good opportunity to continue playing more matches. Even the qualifying - before I would get a little bit annoyed with playing qualifying, but I realize it has given me a little bit more rhythm. It's definitely helped me work out some of the kinks before getting into the main draw, already starting to have that comfort playing matches. It's been good for me.
"I've been having some good results lately, some really tough matches. I've been playing a lot of them. That was pretty much the goal. I just wanted to play a lot of matches and see how far I could get. This is really a great start."