??? 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