??⬛ 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.