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September 25, 2016

Monica Puig

Wuhan, Hubei, China

R. VINCI/M. Puig

6-3, 6-3

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Your thoughts on the match. Obviously a tough first round. How did you feel about the way you played?
MONICA PUIG: It was a tough first round. I didn't necessarily play my best tennis. I wasn't moving very well out there. But she also played pretty well, I thought.

You know, it was a tough draw, tough first round here. But not a whole lot I can say about it.

Q. What has it been like since Rio till now?
MONICA PUIG: It's been pretty tough. There's been a lot of media attention, a lot of focus on just the Olympics. It's kind of hard when you have to focus on other things, other tournaments, and everybody keeps bringing you back to Rio.

It's something that obviously will be the title that I'll have to uphold for the next few years. But at least I accomplished that. It's something that I have to look at as a positive.

Q. Do you feel extra pressure at all when you enter the court because of the title, because of expectations that people have?
MONICA PUIG: No. Realistically I'm still ranked in the 30s. I mean, me coming up against Vinci, I was not the favorite on paper. I don't know really what anybody else expected.

There's no sort of pressure. I'm just going to try to continue to play the way I've been playing. At this part of the year it's normal to expect some lows. I've been playing a lot of tennis this season. I've played a lot of matches, a lot of tournaments.

It's just about continuing to stay positive and try and continue to do my best every single time I go out onto the court.

Q. There are not a lot of people who have won gold medals, that have gone through what you've gone through. Who do you talk to? Who is your primary adviser on this? Is it your family, your coach? I would think it's a weird mental state to be in at the moment.
MONICA PUIG: Yeah, well, I talked a lot with a lot of the athletes after I won the gold medal. Everybody is like, What are you going to do now?

I said, I'm going to get back to training. I have more tournaments. What are you guys going to do?

We're done.


It's a bit tough when you come off the biggest win of your career, the biggest tournament you've ever won, and all of a sudden you have to get back to training.

I feel like Rio definitely drained me mentally and physically because it was a lot to take in. I wish I obviously would have had that time to full-on celebrate, and that would have been it. The tennis calendar isn't that forgiving.

I've done a great job this year. I did a great job last week in Tokyo as well. I'm not going to look at this mistake and dwell on it too much. It's not really a mistake. She played well. It's to be expected at this time of the year. I'm just going to go back to the drawing board and see what I can improve for Beijing and hope for the best.

Q. Would you be able to give yourself some slack?
MONICA PUIG: I'm trying to. Not the best person when it comes to that. I'm definitely one of my toughest critics. Whenever doesn't go the way I've planned, I'm always very tough on myself. I'm always the first person to punish myself.

I've been trying to see things with a different perspective now since Rio. When I went to Rio, I was a different person. I felt like I started enjoying the process a lot more, just enjoying the moment. I really wanted to enjoy the Olympics.

All of a sudden I changed my outlook on everything. I was like, If I change my outlook on how to go about the Olympics and enjoying myself every moment I stepped on the court, maybe that's something that will work for me in the future.

I definitely feel a lot better on the court since I started viewing things that way. I just think it's a matter of time and patience with myself before it becomes more of a consistency.

But I'm well on my way, so... No freaking out yet.

Q. Is it difficult when you come to a tournament that you haven't come several times to before, finding your bearings, also being on from the very first round?
MONICA PUIG: Well, I played here the past two years. I think it was a bit tough because I did come from Tokyo yesterday. I didn't really have a lot of time to adapt to the courts. Obviously I know a lot of other people are probably in the same position.

Just because I didn't adapt quickly to this situation doesn't mean in the future I will continue to do the same thing. It's something that as a professional I have to get used to because I hope I will do well in a tournament, come to the next one and perform.

Again, I'm 22 still for two more days, so I'm still very young and I still have a lot of learning to do. It's really no problem. We're already at the end of the year. I've accomplished so much. I think I can cut myself a little bit of slack sometimes.

Q. So much has happened since Rising Stars in Singapore. How do you feel the trajectory of your career has been since then? In your mind, did it progress the way you thought it would?
MONICA PUIG: It was hard. It's obviously very hard when you go from being a Rising Star, like expected Rising Star, to coming into your own and actually living up to that title.

Now after the Olympic gold medal kind of solidified it a little bit, still, you know, a lot of people view you in a different way. It's kind of like, I was the same person I was a couple months ago even before Rio. But, you know, a lot has happened, a lot of changes. I got older, maybe a little bit wiser, I hope, more mature. I think everybody just keeps on growing as they get older and they start experiencing new things.

I think the more time I spend on tour, the more I'm going to learn. It's all a learning process. That's what life is, so...

Q. Have you at some point over the last five weeks wished you could have had a time-out?

Q. Maybe things have been going a little too fast and you haven't had time to catch up with it?
MONICA PUIG: Being honest, I'm always super honest, but I feel like, yeah, what I said: a lot of people stopped right after the Olympics and they're having fun. A lot of gymnasts are doing Dancing with the Stars, all this and that. I'm in Wuhan, which is not bad. It's not bad.

Like I said, it's not something that I'm used to, winning something this big, then having to continue and keep going. I would have loved to celebrate. I would have loved to have some downtime, give my body a little bit of a breather to catch up with everything that's happened.

Obviously I've had to go at a really fast rate to get my body back into shape, to focus on the tournaments, tell everybody, Don't celebrate too much, the US Open is right around the corner.

It's okay. Again, I'll just continue to learn. The season is almost over. I know when vacation time comes around, I'm not going to be thinking about tennis. I'm going to turn off Twitter, Instagram. I am going to be like hiatus, out. Nobody is going to know about me for two weeks.

I think it's also healthy to just focus on myself, on the rest, what my body needs to recover, and to start a good pre-season.

Q. Do you look at instances where Kerber won the Australian Open then didn't win a match till March. Garbine, similar thing. This is kind of a thing happens with people that get a career-defining win, then they bounce back. Does that give you at least a little bit of peace in your mind about it?
MONICA PUIG: Yeah, 'cause it's normal. It's like a shock to the body and to everything else. All of a sudden you're just like, No way did this just happen.

I just had that one match in New York, then I came to Tokyo and I had a really good tournament. I think it's just coming back to thinking about what you have to do, not getting overshadowed by what happened or anything.

I think, for sure, I bet they must have been like the same: going to sleep and thinking about everything just happened, that they won a Grand Slam. I think probably for Kerber it's a little bit different now since she's had two and so much success, so maybe she's getting used to it.

In terms of me, I never had this type of moment. It took me a while to go to sleep and actually calm my thoughts and not replay that moment over and over again.

It's still very new, still very fresh in my mind. I will officially always be labeled the 'Olympic gold medalist'. I'm getting used to the title.

Q. I'm sure so many people got in touch with you, congratulated you. Of all the people, was there someone who you didn't expect was following and reached out?
MONICA PUIG: I did see a Sports Illustrated article, Mike Tyson. He didn't even know who won the boxing gold medal, but he knew who won the women's singles gold medal. I said, No way. He's a tennis fan because his daughter plays tennis. He's following tennis.

I was like, What, this is crazy.

Even J. Lo, Mark Anthony, all these people. I was reading all the tweets going, Wow, this feels so cool.

I think the ones that were most important to me were my family and everybody who has been with me during my climb up. It was nice to celebrate with them because everybody was crying with me, so it was great.

Q. Do you know (indiscernible) from Prison Break?

Q. He was watching you every single day. He's Puerto Rican.
MONICA PUIG: I think my mom has mentioned him a few times. That's awesome. I knew a lot of people were watching. Even one of the Victoria Secret models who is Puerto Rican, she posted a picture of herself screaming. I was like, Yeah, you go, girl. I liked it when people posted the videos when I won, they were screaming. That kind of reaction is just pure emotion and I love seeing it.

Q. I know you have decided to go to the Tainjin Open.
MONICA PUIG: It's after Beijing.

Q. What are your expectations?
MONICA PUIG: Well, right now I'm just going to try and focus on Beijing, which is the next one, and a really big one. I'm just trying to get through the rest of the season, to try to play my best tennis, to try to be as healthy as possible. That's my main focus at this point.

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