Monica Puig

Puerto Rico's Monica Puig did not drop a set on the way to the Volvo Car Open semifinals. Chris Smith/Volvo Car Open

When last seen playing a quality stretch of winning tennis, Monica Puig was slipping an Olympic gold medal around her neck.

The Summer Games of 2016 in Rio de Janeiro seems a long time ago now.

"It's been a minute since I've had four matches in a row won," said Puig, the winner of Puerto Rico's first Olympic gold medal.

The 25-year-old Puig didn't drop a set during her march into Saturday's semifinal match against Madison Keys and was the only unseeded player in the final four of the Volvo Car Open on Daniel Island.

The key to Puig's resurgence — meditation, she said.

"I've been doing a lot of meditation," said Puig, who beat the Nos. 3, 11 and 13 seeds this week. "But not during the day. I usually do it before I go to bed.

"One of the biggest things I struggle with is falling asleep, because my mind is all chitty-chatty ... It's the thing where I'm able to fall asleep in two minutes where it used to take me an hour and a half to fall asleep. On the court, I feel more level or I feel more at peace."

Puig, making her fifth appearance in Charleston, had never got past the round of 16 here before. She said she had to be convinced to give things like meditation a try.

"So I was not a strong believer in that," she said. "But I think it's kind of like when you're willing to accept things and willing to welcome new things after you resisted it for a long time.

"Then you just start seeing it and you're like, OK, better late than never. Now I really understand what mindfulness is all about and what I really need to take steps forward."

Emma's Prom

Charleston teenager Emma Navarro completed her big week by attending her high school prom on Friday after losing a second-round match in the Volvo Car Open doubles tournament.

"I was playing doubles at 12 o'clock and then I was getting my hair done for prom at 4," Navarro, a junior at Ashley Hall, said Saturday on Tennis Channel. "So yeah, it was good."

One of the top-ranked junior players in the world, Navarro made her WTA Tour debut on Monday with a loss to German veteran Laura Siegemund. She and doubles partner Chloe Beck won their first-round doubles match.

"It was amazing," Navarro said of her pro debut. "The nerves and emotions were a lot to handle, but having my hometown out there supporting me, and my friends and family, was awesome. I was able to relax and play my game, and I'm happy with how I played."

Volvo Car Open

Ben Navarro (2nd from left) smiles as he watches his daughter Emma Navarro during her match against Laura Siegmund Tuesday at the Volvo Car Open. Brad Nettles/Staff

Emma's father, Charleston businessman Ben Navarro, bought the VCO last year.

"As you can imagine, there's a whole lot of planning that goes into these five or six days," Ben Navarro said on Tennis Channel. "The team we have, led by (tournament director) Bob Moran, is just extraordinary. We've tried to take what they've done and try to make it a little better, to the extent we can.

"This is a really important event for this city," he said. "And I just didn't want to see it go somewhere else, like so many of these (tournaments) have gone away."

15 for 15

The WTA Tour is guaranteed a 15th different champion in 15 events this season after No. 9 seed Belinda Bencic was defeated by Petra Martic. Bencic was the lone remaining player in the field to have won a title this season.

"I think the level is high, and everybody is playing great tennis," said Martic. "So it all depends on how the week is going and who is going to pull out five matches in a row on such a high level. And it looks like the variety is really big."

Reach Jeff Hartsell at 843-937-5596. Follow on Twitter @Jeff_fromthePC

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