After her defeat last week in the first round of Montreal, there was some doubt about what Elise Mertens would look like, but guess what? Opponent Camila Giorgi (WTA 34) won the biggest title of her career a few days later and also beat Nadia Podroska in the second round. Monday night — the fixture schedule was largely delayed by torrential rain on Mason, Ohio — the two victims of that Italian desire to work — Mertens and Roland Garros 2020 summers, Podroska — played against each other. Our citizens emerged from this conflict with sovereignty.
“I’m happy to win, because it wasn’t an easy draw,” Mertens said after an hour and 40 minutes of a duel in which she collected at least six of his seven break points. “I quickly got to the right tempo. It could be better, but I was playing consistently. The first serve (although only 52 percent) came in really well and that was a huge advantage. I also made fewer mistakes than them. She has a strong forehand, but I I directed the gatherings really well. The feeling was good.”
Her 27th victory in 40 matches in 2021 would lead today to a duel with Elena Rybakina (WTA19) or Sam Stosur (WTA 186). “A tough match,” Mertens already knows. “Players who are very experienced and aggressive in their game.” The 22-year-old Kazakh Rybakina – less than a bronze medalist in Tokyo a few weeks ago – is frightening. “This is a tough tournament,” Mertens kicks in an open door. Also starring that 25-year-old Hamonzi is good. In the past three years she has lost consecutively in the quarter-finals (Kvitova), the second round (Svitolina) and the semi-finals (Osaka) and only against the top ten players. That should give her confidence for the sequel.
“Of course I would like to defend the semi-final match I played last year,” Mertens says. “But I look at it game by game.” Looking further, we see a possible third round against her former doubles partner (they played together again last week in Montreal) Arina Sabalenka (WTA 3). This would be a perfect indicator, right before the US Open, to see how her shape is doing. Hope the feeling lasts longer.
Medal contender Elise Mertens in heart after a quick exit in Tokyo: ‘I wanted to do more for Team Belgium’
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