Aryna Sabalenka vs. Elise Mertens – Prediction – WTA Linz (Austria) 15.11.2020

H2H: Aryna Sabalenka (Belarus) v Elise Mertens (Belgium) – comparison.

Sabalenka will start off as the clear favorite. As opponents, they have met five times with the Belarusian winning the last two clashes, at 2019 Zhuhai and 2020 Dubai, to take a 3-2 lead in the head-to-head. It will be their second battle in a final after the one at 2018 Lugano, where Mertens prevailed 7-5, 6-2 on the Swiss clay.

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Linz debutante Aryna Sabalenka faced a hiccup for the first time this week, needing a third set to beat 2019 doubles champion Barbora Krejcikova, 7-5, 4-6, 6-3, and book the final. She had rolled through her first three rounds with no set loss, beating Jasmine Paolini and qualifiers Stefanie Voegele and Oceane Dodin (via ret). Sabalenka is hoping to go three-for-three in finals this year. In February, she won her third career Premier 5 title at Doha, beating Petra Kvitova, 6-3, 6-3. Following a disappointing summer in the US, the Belarusian avenged her US Open second-round defeat in the final of Ostrava, defeating an ill Victoria Azarenka, 6-2, 6-2.

Sabalenka had little experience on indoor hard courts when she competed at Ostrava. Until last month, she had played just four such main draws on tour in her entire career, though one of them was a title at 2019 WTA Elite Trophy. This surface can now make her the joint tour-leader in most title wins in 2020 with Simona Halep (3). Sabalenka has won all 12 of her indoor hard court matches this season. This streak began in Ostrava, where she swept the singles as well as the doubles title with none other than Mertens. It includes a couple of breathtaking comeback wins as well, against Gauff (from 2-5 down in third set) and Sorribes Tormo (from 0-6, 0-4).

Elise Mertens needed two bites at the cherry against 2018 finalist Ekaterina Alexandrova in the semifinals. The Belgian, who is making her main draw debut in the Upper Austrian event, served out the Russian, 2-6, 6-1, 7-5, on her second attempt to avenge defeat in their only previous meeting at ‘s-Hertogenbosch last year. Mertens, who was already the season leader in most match wins at the start of the week, has consolidated her position following four testing rounds in Linz. Compared to Sabalenka’s one, she has been taken to the deciding set thrice, including by qualifier Anhelina Kalinina and 2008 finalist Vera Zvonareva in the first two rounds.

Mertens has picked up a whopping 23 match wins since the season resumed. This fine form includes her only other final appearance of the season, at Prague in August. She lost the Czech clay-court tournament to Halep, 6-2, 7-5, and therefore has to wait a bit more for her sixth WTA title and the first since Doha in 2019. Sabalenka and Mertens have been regular doubles partners since the first quarter of the 2019 season. They have reached five finals and won four titles in that discipline, including winning their career’s first Grand Slam title at the 2019 US Open. Their latest triumph together just a few days ago on the indoor surface of Ostrava.

Match Info.

Competition: WTA – SINGLES Linz (Austria), hard (indoor)
Start: 15.11.2020, 14:00 UTC.

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Aryna Sabalenka

Elise Mertens





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