Fixture: (7) Elise Mertens vs Alize Cornet
Date: 7 April 2021
Tournament: Volvo Car Open 2021
Round: Second round (Round of 32)
Venue: Charleston, United States
Category: WTA 500
Surface: Green clay
Match timing: Approx. 2 pm local time, 11.30 pm IST
Prize money: $823,000
Elise Mertens vs Alize Cornet preview
Elise Mertens has been one of the most consistent players on tour since the resumption of tennis last August. After finishing the 2020 season with a runner-up finish in Linz, the Belgian started off her 2021 in style - by winning the Grampians Trophy in Melbourne.
She then suffered a somewhat disappointing fourth-round defeat to Karolina Muchova at the Australian Open. But the 25-year-old followed that by reaching the semifinal in Dubai, where she lost in two tight sets to eventual champion Garbine Muguruza.
Mertens was last seen on the hardcourts of Miami, where she was defeated by World No. 2 Naomi Osaka in the fourth round. The Belgian would now be hoping to put together a strong run on clay - her best surface - starting with the Charleston second-rounder against Alize Cornet.
Unlike her opponent, Cornet has been quite shaky since the tour restarted. The Frenchwoman is yet to string more than three wins at a tournament this year, and has a win-loss record of just 6-7 so far.
However, the 31-year-old showed great desire and mental fortitude in the Charleston first round. Cornet overturned a one-set deficit before beating Bernarda Pera 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 to set up the encounter against Mertens.
Elise Mertens vs Alize Cornet head-to-head
The second round meeting in Charleston is the third match between Elise Mertens and Alize Cornet on tour, and their head-to-head is currently tied at 1-1.
Mertens defeated Cornet in their first meeting - at the 2018 Australian Open - in straight sets, while Cornet got the better of the Belgian in the first round of the 2019 Fed Cup.
Elise Mertens vs Alize Cornet prediction
As the seventh seed and also the more in-form player, Elise Mertens comes into the match against Alize Cornet as the clear favorite.
Mertens has had the best results of her career on clay, and will be raring to complete a full season on dirt for the first time in nearly two years. The Belgian is one of the most solid players on tour from the baseline, and boasts of potent groundstrokes from both wings.
Mertens' endurance and stamina make her a threat against any opponent in the longer exchanges, which perhaps explains her claycourt success in the past.
Cornet, on her part, never backs away from a physical battle. As one of the fittest players on tour, the Frenchwoman will look to go toe-to-toe with Mertens from the baseline and mix up her game to disrupt the Belgian's rhythm.
However, Mertens' form and previous results suggest that the match will be on her racket. If she can keep her unforced errors in check - particularly on serve - she should be relatively comfortable.
Prediction: Elise Mertens to win in straights sets.