??? Roland Garros, R2 preview + prediction: ?? (16) Elise Mertens vs. ?? Kaia Kanepi
The 16th seeded Elise Mertens continues her 2020 Roland Garros campaign on Wednesday with a potentially dangerous second round clash with the powerful Kaia Kanepi. Mertens is in great form, fresh from a quarter-final showing in Rome, on the back of a quarter-final appearance at the US Open, the Belgian is full of confidence. However, it was Kanepi who won the only previous meeting between the pair and who has the weapons to hurt most opponents.
Mertens cruised through her opening round match in Paris, a solid 6-2 6-3 win over Margarita Gasparyan. Mertens has been one of the most consistent players on tour at Grand Slam events over the last few years, reaching at least the third round stage at the last 10 Grand Slam events, a streak which started with a semi-final run at the 2018 Australian Open. At Roland Garros Mertens has never lost prior to the third round in her 3 previous main draw appearances.
Kaia Kanepi hasn’t played much tennis in 2020, even less than most. Kanepi’s last 3 tournaments have been Grand Slams. The 35-year-old arrived in Paris short of match practise having not played since her second round exit at the US Open. That didn’t stop Kanepi from claiming a 4-6 6-4 6-2 win over Marie Bouzkova in her opening round match at Roland Garros.
It was Kaia Kanepi who emerged victorious in the only previous meeting between the pair, a 0-6 6-0 7-5 victory for the Estonian on the green clay of Charleston last year.
I will side with Mertens here. Mertens is a class above Kanepi and should be too solid for the Estonian. Mertens absorbs pace better than most, this should be a good match-up for Mertens on a clay court. Mertens moves well and is able to turn defence into attack and expose the poor movement of Kanepi. Mertens has been one of the most consistent players on tour over the last few months, whilst Kanepi has barely played any tennis, a solid performance from Mertens here will likely see her through.
Prediction: Elise Mertens to defeat Kaia Kanepi in 2 sets
2020 US OPEN – QF preview + prediction: ?? ?? (16) Elise Mertens vs. ?? Victoria Azarenka
Wednesday’s second quarter-final from the 2020 US Open sees the 16th seeded Elise Mertens come up against 2-time former finalist Victoria Azarenka. This will be the first career meeting between Mertens and Azarenka, an exciting match-up between a pair of red-hot opponents.
Elise Mertens has stormed into a second consecutive quarter-final at the US Open without dropping a single set. Mertens moved through the first week with wins over 3 unseeded opponents, a 6-2 6-2 win over Laura Siegemund, a 6-3 7-5 victory over Sara Sorribes Tormo, followed by a 7-5 6-1 triumph over Caty McNally. Mertens produced her most impressive performance in the fourth round where she totally outplayed the 2nd seeded Sofia Kenin to record a 6-3 6-3 victory, perhaps the best anyone has played all tournament.
Victoria Azarenka is the form player on tour, the former world number 1 is on a 9-match winning streak having won the Western & Southern Open last week. Azarenka also moved through the first week of the tournament with ease, defeating Barbara Haas 6-1 6-2, the 5th seeded Aryna Sabalenka 6-1 6-3 and Iga Swiatek 6-4 6-2. Azarenka’s biggest test came at the fourth round stage where she snuck past the 20th seeded Karolina Muchova 5-7 6-1 6-4, Azarenka was initially outplayed until Muchova became injured.
I’m going to side with Mertens here. Mertens was extremely impressive in her win over Kenin and will get the job done with a similar level in this match-up. Azarenka is on a roll but there are holes in her game, most notably her serve. Mertens has a strong return of serve and should take advantage of Azarenka’s weak serve. Mertens can match Azarenka from the back of the court, I don’t think Azarenka can consistently hit through Mertens and I would favour Mertens to outlast Azarenka in a baseline battle.
Prediction: Elise Mertens to defeat Victoria Azarenka in 2 sets
?? Western & Southern Open – SF Preview + Prediction: ? ?? (4) Naomi Osaka vs. ?? (14) Elise Mertens
The 4th seeded Naomi Osaka comes up against the 14th seeded Elise Mertens at the semi-final stage of the 2020 Western & Southern Open in New York. Osaka has done well to get through a couple of tricky matches this week and enters the semi-final stage as the highest remaining seed, can the Japanese star make it all the way to the final?
Elise Mertens has won more main draw matches than any other player since the tour restart. Mertens reached the final on clay in Prague a few weeks ago and is now into the final 4 at the Western & Southern Open. Mertens has secured 3 commanding straight set wins over Rebecca Peterson, Veronika Kudermetova and Jessica Pegula, In between those wins Mertens was pushed to 3 sets by Kristina Mladenovic. Mertens has now won 8 of her last 9 matches at Flushing Meadows having reached the US Open quarter-finals last year.
It has been a roller-coaster ride for Osaka on route to the semi-finals. The 2-time major champion started the event with a gallant 6-7 6-4 6-2 win over Karolina Muchova before hammering Dayana Yastremska 6-3 6-1. Osaka looked down and out in her quarter-final clash with Anett Kontaveit when she trailed by a set and an early break, however Osaka displayed her champion qualities as she turned the match around to win 4-6 6-2 7-5.
The head-to-head record between the pair is split at 1 win apiece. Osaka won the most recent match between the pair, a 6-4 6-1 win in Osaka last year, while Mertens won 6-4 1-6 6-4 in Wuhan back in 2017.
This is a tough match to call, a seemingly even match-up between two players with a lot to offer. Osaka’s best is better, but can she consistently play at a high enough level to get the better of an in-form Mertens? I’m leaning towards no. Osaka’s level has been very inconsistent this week. Both have played a lot of tennis over a short period of time this week and will be thinking of conserving energy for the US Open, especially Osaka. Mertens is hard to beat when she is on a roll. Mertens is a fantastic counter-puncher, especially on a quick hard court surface, a solid, consistent effort from Mertens could see her grind out a victory over Osaka.
Prediction: Elise Mertens to defeat Naomi Osaka in 3 sets
?? Western & Southern Open – QF Preview + Prediction: ?? (14) Elise Mertens vs. ?? (Q) Jessica Pegula
The first quarter-final of the day at the Western & Southern Open in New York sees the 14th seeded Elise Mertens come up against a red-hot Jessica Pegula. This will be the first career meeting between the pair, who will prevail?
Elise Mertens has been one of the most successful players since the tour resumption. The Belgian reached the final in Prague a few weeks back, Mertens has transitioned very nicely from clay to hard courts to reach the final 8 at Flushing Meadows. The 24-year-old cruised through her opening round match with a 6-0 6-2 win over Rebecca Peterson before scrapping past Kristina Mladenovic 6-1 6-7 6-3. Mertens booked her spot in the quarter-finals with a 6-2 6-3 victory over Veronika Kudermetova.
Jessica Pegula has already won 5 matches this week having come through the qualifying draw, the 26-year-old is the only remaining qualifier in the draw. The American has picked up 3 big victories in the main draw over more fancied opponents. Pegula defeated an in-form Jennifer Brady 7-6 6-4 in the first round before beating Amanda Anisimova 7-5 6-2. Pegula scored an important top 10 win to book her spot in the final 8 when she beat Aryna Sabalenka 6-2 2-6 6-3.
This is a big opportunity for both players, both will see this as a very winnable match. I’m going to side with Mertens here. Pegula has already played a lot of tennis this week and had her left thigh heavily strapped in the previous round. It’s safe to assume Mertens will be the fresher of the two heading into this match, this could be an important factor in a match-up that will feature a good amount of long rallies given the similar playing styles of the pair. Mertens also has the edge when it comes to experiences in big matches at the later stages of events like this.
Prediction: Elise Mertens to defeat Jessica Pegula in 3 sets
??⬛ Prague Open – Final Preview + Prediction ?? (1) Simona Halep vs. ?? (3) Elise Mertens
A blockbuster final at the 2020 Prague Open sees the top seeded Simona Halep come up against the third seeded Elise Mertens. Halep has won 3 of the 4 previous meetings between the pair and enters this clash as a strong favourite.
It has been a difficult week for Halep in her return to competitive action. The world number 2 required 3 tough sets to get the better of Polona Hercog and Barbora Krejcikova in her first few matches of the event. Halep cruised past Magdalena Frech 6-2 6-0 in the quarterfinals before booking her spot in the final with a hard-fought 7-6 6-3 win over Irina-Camelia Begu.
Mertens has also come through a couple of tough matches to reach the final in Prague. The Belgian required 3 sets to get the better of Jasmine Paolini and Eugenie Bouchard, in between those wins she defeated Camila Giorgi in straight sets. Mertens secured her spot in the championship match with a 7-5 7-6 win over Kristyna Pliskova. A good week for Mertens given her disappointing opening round exit last week in Palermo.
Halep holds a 3-1 head-to-head record over Mertens. Importantly Halep has won both of the previous matches between the pair on a clay court, very comfortably, both in 2018, a 6-0 6-3 win in Madrid followed by a 6-2 6-1 win at Roland Garros. Halep also won the most recent meeting between the pair at the Australian Open earlier this year, a 6-4 6-4 victory.
I’m going to side with Halep here. Halep’s strong record against Mertens in their previous clay court meetings can’t be ignored. Halep and Mertens have similar strengths but Halep simply does most things a little better, which is especially true on a clay court. In a match-up where both players move extremely well and are very consistent from the back of the court, it is Halep who has heavier shots and more margin to her game, which will see her win the majority of the extended rallies, of which there will be many.
Prediction: Simona Halep to defeat Elise Mertens in 2 sets
??⬛ Prague Open – SF Preview + Prediction ?? (3) Elise Mertens vs. ?? Kristyna Pliskova
The first spot in the 2020 Prague Open final will be up for grabs when the third seeded Elise Mertens comes up against Kristyna Pliskova. Mertens won the first couple of matches between the pair in straight sets and is favourite to continue that trend in Prague.
Elise Mertens has responded well to her opening round exit in Palermo last week to reach the final 4 in Prague. The Belgian started the week with a hard-fought 7-5 4-6 6-3 win over Jasmine Paolini. Mertens produced her best performance of the week in the second round with a 6-4 6-2 win over Camila Giorgi. Mertens secured her spot in the semi-finals with a 6-4 1-6 6-4 victory over an in-form Eugenie Bouchard.
It has been a strange week for Kristyna Pliskova, she has been extremely lucky to reach the final 4. Pliskova started the week with a 6-2 7-5 win over Linda Fruhvirtova before defeating the second seeded Petra Martic 6-1 7-5. Martic was injured in that match and offered very little resistance, Pliskova again benefited from an injured opponent in the next round as Ana Bogdan retired in the opening set whilst leading by a double break.
Mertens holds a perfect 2-0 record over Pliskova. Both victories came on a hard court in 2019, a 6-2 7-6 win in Doha followed by a 6-2 6-2 win at the US Open.
Expect Mertens to be far too solid for Pliskova here. Mertens has fantastic movement and a very solid backhand, making her a nightmare match-up for Pliskova on a clay court. Pliskova’s lefty patterns will be covered well by the Mertens backhand and movement. Pliskova will find it very hard to hit through Mertens, whilst Mertens will be able to spread the court and expose the poor movement of Pliskova.
Prediction: Elise Mertens to defeat Kristyna Pliskova in 2 sets
?? Australian Open, R4 preview + prediction: ?? (4) Simona Halep vs. ?? (16) Elise Mertens
Simona Halep and Elise Mertens renew hostilities when they do battle at the fourth round stage at Melbourne Park on Monday. Halep is one of the favourites heading into the second week of the tournament but will be wary of her Belgian opponent given it was Mertens who emerged victorious in their most recent meeting.
Simona Halep moved through the first week in Melbourne without dropping a set. Halep’s first few matches had their complications, a 7/6 6/1 win over Jennifer Brady followed by a 6/2 6/4 win over Harriet Dart. Halep produced her most convincing performance in the third round where she smashed Yulia Putintseva 6/1 6/4. The reigning Wimbledon champion is seemingly in a good place right now and will be tough to beat from here.
Elise Mertens cruised through her first couple of matches at Melbourne Park. The 16th seed dropped just a combined 5 games through a 6/2 6/0 win over Danka Kovinic and a 6/3 6/0 win over Heather Watson. Mertens faced her biggest test in the third round where she required a roller-coaster 3 set match to get the better of Catherine Bellis, a 6/1 6/7 6/0 victory.
Halep holds a 2-1 head-to-head record over Mertens. It was Halep that won the first couple of matches between the pair, both straight set victories where the Romanian dropped just 3 games in each match. Mertens flipped the script in their most recent match, a 3/6 6/4 6/3 victory in the Doha final last year.
I’m going to side with Halep here. I think this is generally a good match-up for Halep. Halep crushed Mertens in their first few matches; it took an inspired performance by Mertens to defeat Halep in Doha. Mertens needs to play at her very best, over a long period of the match to have success in this match-up. Halep isn’t going to give the match away, Mertens needs to be able to hit through Halep, that will not be easy on a fairly slow hard court. Halep has more margin to her shots which gives her the edge in a match-up that will feature a lot of extended rallies given the movement and defensive abilities of both.
Prediction: Simona Halep to defeat Elise Mertens in 2 sets
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???? Roland Garros, R3 Preview ?? (12) Anastasija Sevastova vs. ?? (20) Elise Mertens
Anastasija Sevastova and Elise Mertens will go head-to-head with a spot in the fourth round at Roland Garros up for grabs. Sevastova and Mertens are two of the most improved players over the last few years, both will see this as a big opportunity to reach the second week in Paris. Expect a close match between two fairly evenly matched opponents, who will step it up and make the most of this opportunity?
Anastasija Sevastova’s recent from hasn’t been great but she has done well to make the most of a favourable draw thus far at Roland Garros. Sevastova cruised through her first few matches in Paris against lowly opposition. Sevastova started the event with a 6-1 6-4 win over Luksika Kumkhum before defeating Mandy Minella 6-1 6-4. Sevastova will face her first real test of the tournament in her third round battle with Mertens.
Elise Mertens has also not been in the best from of late but has also done well to reach the third round stage in Paris. Mertens started her campaign with a tricky test against Tamara Zidansek, Mertens prevailed 6-4 3-6 6-2, a good win considering Zidansek was in form having reached the Nuremburg final last week. Mertens cruised into the third round with an easy 6-1 6-3 win over Diane Parry. Mertens will also face her toughest test in the next round.
The only previous match between the pair took place on grass in Mallorca back in 2017, Sevastova won that match 7-6 5-7 6-1.
To view my analysis / prediction for this match: Click here
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Kiki Bertens will be searching for her first career win over Elise Mertens when the pair go head-to-head in a tough opening round match-up at the Brisbane International. Mertens always loomed as the toughest unseeded opponent, the world number 12 is the highest ranked player in the draw not to be seeded and will potentially be the highest ranked unseeded player heading into any event this year.
Mertens looms as a particularly tough opening round match-up for Bertens given their history. Mertens has won both of the previous meetings between the pair, both on a hard court and both in 2017. Mertens won 6-2 7-5 in Hobart and 4-6 6-4 6-2 in New Haven.
Both Bertens and Mertens have dramatically climbed up the rankings over the last few years, it will be interesting to see which of the pair can consolidate a spot in the top 10 in 2019. A win here would be a great start to the year for both. Who will it be?
To view my analysis / prediction for this match: Click here
WTA Elite Trophy – Zhuhai RR preview + prediction ?? (4) Elise Mertens vs. ?? (5) Julia Goerges
Julia Goerges’ title defense is hanging by a thread heading into Thursday’s match with Elise Mertens. Goerges suffered a shock 3-set loss at the hands of Anett Kontaveit in her first match of the week whilst Mertens defeated Kontaveit in straight sets in her first match of the event. This all means that Goerges needs to win this match in straight sets to advance, otherwise Mertens will go through to the semi-finals.
This will be the first career meeting between Mertens and Goerges. I’m going to side with Mertens here. The pair will be aware of the situation heading into this match, 1 set will do for Mertens. Once Mertens gets that set I think the resistance of Goerges will waver and Mertens will cruise to victory. Mertens has the versatile game that should frustrate Goerges, especially given how poorly Goerges played in her first-up loss to Kontaveit. Mertens on the other hand looked very solid in her first match and should be too consistent for Goerges.
Prediction: Elise Mertens to defeat Julia Goerges in 2 sets