Gippsland Trophy 2021: Kaia Kanepi vs Elise Mertens preview, head-to-head & prediction

Kaia Kanepi
Kaia Kanepi

Match details

Fixture: Kaia Kanepi vs Elise Mertens

Date: 7 February 2021

Tournament: Gippsland Trophy 2021

Round: Final

Venue: Melbourne, Australia

Category: WTA 500

Surface: Outdoor hardcourt

Prize money: $565,530

Match timing: 12 noon local time, 6.30 am IST

Live telecast: USA - ESPN / Tennis Channel

Kaia Kanepi vs Elise Mertens preview

Kaia Kanepi is back in the reckoning for a WTA title after a near eight-year-long gap. The big-hitting Estonian last contested a final at the 2013 Brussels Open, where she took out Peng Shuai to capture the crown.

Playing in her first tournament of the season, she was two points away from a first-round exit against Astra Sharma. But Kanepi was able to flip a switch and has been unstoppable since.

The 35-year-old has had a stellar week in Melbourne, where she has managed to outmuscle the likes of Aryna Sabalenka and Ekaterina Alexandrova. The only thing standing between her and a fifth career title is seventh seed, Elise Mertens.

Elise Mertens
Elise Mertens

Mertens has been a consistent performer on the tour for the last few years but is still in search of a breakthrough at the big stage. A title run in the build-up to the Australian Open will be just the sort of boost she has been hoping for.

The Belgian has a solid all-round game, with good attacking groundstrokes and nifty front-court skills. The former Australian Open semi-finalist has also had considerable success Down Under, and Kanepi will definitely be aware of the threat.

Kaia Kanepi vs Elise Mertens head-to-head

Kaia Kanepi
Kaia Kanepi

Kaia Kanepi and Elise Mertens have split their two meetings so far, so their current head-to-head stands at a 1-1 deadlock. Mertens won their last showdown, which came at the 2020 French Open.

Kaia Kanepi vs Elise Mertens prediction

Kaia Kanepi enters this matchup as a heavy underdog, but still has quite a few things going for her. The Estonian possesses a powerful game built around huge groundstrokes, especially on the forehand side. After the big wins from this week, she will come into the final with a lot of conviction.

Kanepi's experience of beating Ekaterina Alexandrova in the semi-finals will come in handy. The Russian has a playing style similar to that of Elise Mertens and that match would have come as a good practice.

For the Belgian, the key will be to put her frontcourt skills to use. If she can manage to take time away from her opponent, she stands a much better chance of winning rallies. Too much hanging around the baseline and playing defensive is unlikely to reap rewards.

Kanepi too needs to continue playing the sort of inspired tennis that she has shown all week. If she is able to do that, the Estonian should have enough firepower to come through.

Prediction: Kaia Kanepi to win in three sets

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Edited by Sudeshna Banerjee
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