Fixture: (11) Belinda Bencic vs (18) Elise Mertens
Date: 13 February 2021
Tournament: Australian Open 2021
Round: Third round (Round of 32)
Venue: Melbourne, Australia
Category: Grand Slam
Surface: Outdoor hardcourt
Prize money: AUD $80,000,000
Live telecast: USA - ESPN / Tennis Channel | UK - Eurosport Player | India - Sony Six
Belinda Bencic vs Elise Mertens preview
World No. 12 Belinda Bencic takes on the in-form Elise Mertens in the third round of the Australian Open on Saturday.
Bencic barely competed on the tour in 2020, losing her first and only appearance following the tour resumption at the Rome Masters. The Swiss took the court for the first time after that at the Grampians Trophy last week, where she lost in the first round against Sorana Cirstea.
Bencic hasn't been too convincing at the Australian Open this week either. The 23-year-old was taken to a third set by Lauren Davis and Svetlana Kuznetsova in the first two rounds, and she has already spent over five hours on the court.
Elise Mertens, on the other hand, has been one of the form players since the tour resumed post lockdown. The Belgian has had some remarkable results in recent months.
After ending the 2020 season inside the world's top 20, Mertens got her 2021 season off to a dream start, picking up the title at the Gippsland Trophy. Beating the likes of Kaia Kanepi and Elina Svitolina en route would have given her immense confidence.
Her rich vein of form has continued in Melbourne Park so far. The World No. 16 won her early-round encounters against Leylah Fernandez and Lin Zhu in straight sets to set up the match against Bencic.
Belinda Bencic vs Elise Mertens head-to-head
The third-round encounter at the Australian Open between Belinda Bencic and Elise Mertens is their first professional meeting on tour, so their head-to-head currently stands at 0-0.
Belinda Bencic vs Elise Mertens prediction
Belinda Bencic may be the higher-ranked player, but Elise Mertens' recent form and prowess on hardcourts make her the favorite going into the third round.
Bencic possesses a solid baseline game which is effective on hardcourts. She reached the US Open semifinals in 2019, and her expert redirection of pace makes her a threat to most power players.
Bencic will look to exploit the Belgian's occasionally inconsistent serve with her proficient return game. But Mertens' counterpunching style of play has yielded excellent results on hardcourts in the recent past, and it may prove to be too much of a hurdle for the rusty Swiss.
Prediction: Elise Mertens to win in straight sets.