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.