?? 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.