Date: 15 February 2021
Tournament: Australian Open 2021
Round: Fourth round (Round of 16)
Venue: Melbourne, Australia
Category: Grand Slam
Surface: Outdoor hardcourt
Prize money: AUD $80 million
Live Telecast: USA - Tennis Channel | India - Sony Six
Elise Mertens vs Karolina Muchova preview
Elise Mertens seems to have hit a purple patch in recent months. The World No. 16 from Belgium reached the final in Prague in August, which was followed by a run to the semis of the Western & Southern Open and the quarters of the US Open.
While she didn't do too well on clay, a return to hardcourt saw Mertens return to form. The 25-year-old made it to the quarters in Ostrava and the final in Linz to end the season, winning 23 of her last 30 matches.
Mertens started off the 2021 season with a bang, winning her sixth career singles title at the Gippsland Trophy last week. She posted wins over the likes of Elina Svitolina, Caroline Garcia and Kaia Kanepi on her way to hoisting the trophy.
Now, standing between Elise Mertens and a quarter-final berth at the Australian Open is Karolina Muchova.
Muchova has one WTA singles title to her credit, and her best Slam performance has been a quarterfinal appearance at Wimbledon 2019. But the Czech's form hasn't been as sparkling as Mertens' since the tour's resumption last August.
Her best efforts since then have been a fourth-round appearance at the US Open and the quarters of the Gippsland Trophy, where she pulled out due to a left abdominal injury.
Elise Mertens vs Karolina Muchova head-to-head
Elise Mertens and Karolina Muchova have played once on the WTA tour, with Mertens leading their head-to-head 1-0.
The Belgian scored a 6-4, 6-2 win over Muchova in the Round of 16 at the WTA Ostrava event a few months ago.
Elise Mertens vs Karolina Muchova prediction
Elise Mertens has continued her solid form in Melbourne, advancing to the fourth round of the Australian Open without dropping a set. In fact, the Belgian has dropped only 14 games in three matches so far this week, while registering impressive wins over the likes of Leylah Fernandez and Belinda Bencic.
Karolina Muchova is also yet to lose a set this week. The Czech has scalped some big names too, including former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko and No. 6 seed Karolina Pliskova.
In the match against Pliskova, Muchova came back from 0-5 down in the second set to win 7-5, 7-5 and reach the last-16 for the first time in her career.
Mertens prefers staying at the baseline, while Muchova is known for her all-court game. The match will likely come down to who is more solid on the day, keeping their error count low.
Mertens is a former semi-finalist at the Australian Open and the more confident of the two coming into this match. That makes her the favorite to advance to her fourth career Grand Slam quarter-final.
Prediction: Elise Mertens to win in straight sets