WTA Insider David Kane | Fresh off her career-best achievement in Rio de Janeiro, Monica Puig is feeling comfortable on court after two impressive wins at the Toray Pan Pacific Open.
WTA Staff

All it took was a historic win at the Olympic tennis event to send Monica Puig's life into overdrive. The first Gold medalist from her home country of Puerto Rico returned to San Juan a national hero, and promptly went on a whirlwind tour of media appearances and victory celebrations.

But the strain of success ultimately caught up with the 22-year-old, who admitted to feeling fatigued following the Olympic feat.

"After Rio, there was so much going on, and it was so hectic, that I forgot resting is also part of a tennis player's job," Puig told WTA Insider after her first-round win over Varvara Lepchenko at the Toray Pan Pacific Open. "That's affected me the most, but I'm glad I was able to rebound from that, and I'm actually feeling really good right now."

Puig has looked back to playing her best tennis in Tokyo after a disappointing first round loss at the US Open. She dropped just three games to Lepchenko and recovered from a set down to earn a second straight win over Olympic bronze medalist Petra Kvitova for her seventh quarterfinal of the year.

Monica Puig

"It's always important for me to try to finish the year on a high, because I started so well and I continued well throughout the whole season. I've had my highs, so for me it's just about continuing that high, and continuing to play well.

"It was a little bit bumpy after the Olympics, but I was finally able to rest and recover, get myself back into shape, focus again and reset everything from zero. That winning feeling never goes away; it's always in the back of your mind, and that's just something you continue to deal with for the rest of your life."

Winning in Rio was a dream come true for the World No.33, who presciently named her dog after the city in which she'd go on to claim victories over Kvitova and two of 2016's Grand Slam champions in Garbiñe Muguruza and Angelique Kerber.

But rather than try and keep rolling, Puig opted for a reset.

"I needed to restructure everything, so getting back onto the court was key for me. I feel like the more time I spend on court, the more comfortable I get, but also try to balance that with rest.

"I know that after the season is over, I'll be able to leave my racquets in the closet for two weeks, but I just wanted to get back in form for the last few tournaments of the season. Getting back on the court, then, was definitely a priority for me."

In the spirit of getting back into the swing of things, Puig arrived in Asia nearly a week before first ball, shaking off residual jet lag - and the disappointment of not throwing the perfect pitch at a Florida Marlins game - maintaining that balance between player and person.

"Unfortunately, I can't sleep in until 12; I've tried, but it never really goes the way I hope! I try to sleep as much as I can though, and also take time to unwind, doing other things. I watch Netflix, movies, and take my mind away from the tennis court and everything tennis-related.

"It's important to switch off because you're not just a tennis player; you're also a person and human being who has needs that your body asks for. Without rest and recovery, you can't function!"

Olympic Gold would be a career-defining achievement for many, but Puig, who plans to ring in her 23rd birthday with a party in Wuhan, sees it as a stepping stone, one that can help set her up in good stead for next season.

"Feeling good and playing well makes me really happy; tennis makes me happy, so I'm just going to have fun out there because I've learned to have fun on the court. That's something I've always wanted to do, and I'm really excited."

All photos courtesy of Getty Images.