Fixture: (1) Elise Mertens vs Lara Arruabarrena
Date: 20 April 2021
Tournament: TEB BNP Paribas Tennis Championship Istanbul
Round: First Round (Round of 32)
Venue: Istanbul, Turkey
Category: WTA 250
Prize money: $235,238
Live telecast: USA - Tennis Channel | UK - Europsort
Elise Mertens vs Lara Arruabarrena preview
Top seed Elise Mertens opens her Istanbul campaign against World No. 181 Lara Arruabarrena on Tuesday.
Mertens has picked up from where she left off in 2020, stitching together yet another consistent period on the WTA tour. She started the 2021 season by winning the sixth singles title of her career at the Gippsland Trophy, following which she made the semis in Dubai too.
That said, the clay swing did not start off well for the Belgian as she suffered an opening-round loss to French veteran Alize Cornet in Charleston. The unexpected 5-7, 3-6 defeat was a blip in an otherwise stellar season for Mertens.
The World No. 17 will now be eager to bounce back in Istanbul and get some matches under her belt.
A former World No. 52, Lara Arruabarrena has been struggling for quite some time, which is evident from her current ranking of No. 181. The 29-year-old is a two-time singles champion on the WTA tour, but her results have been on a downward slide of late.
Arruabarrena's only noteworthy performance of 2021 so far has been at the Copa Colsanitas in Bogota earlier this month. She made the quarters there from qualifying, winning four matches on the trot.
The Spaniard has grown up playing on clay, and her Bogota run will give her some measure of confidence going into the match against Mertens.
Elise Mertens vs Lara Arruabarrena head-to-head
Elise Mertens and Lara Arruabarrena have never crossed paths on the WTA Tour before, so their head-to-head stands at a 0-0 deadlock.
Elise Mertens vs Lara Arruabarrena prediction
Although Elise Mertens is better known for her hardcourt prowess, she doesn't have a shabby record on clay either.
Mertens has won two claycourt titles in her career and reached four finals in total on dirt, with the most recent being at Prague last year. The Belgian's quick footwork and consistency from the baseline are real assets on the slow surface.
Mertens would, however, need to shrug off her Charleston loss quickly and get down to business in Istanbul, given that she is pitted against an opponent who can make things tough with her weight of shot.
Arruabarrena has had more match practice on this surface than Mertens in recent times. Having made a run to the Copa Colsanitas quarters and grabbed a couple of qualifying wins in Istanbul, the Spaniard is well-tested for the rigors of clay.
Arruabarrena's forehand is her biggest weapon, and she possesses decent volleying skills too. But her serve is a liability, and that is the area Mertens would look to exploit.
The Belgian can use her robust return game to put pressure on Arruabarrena right from the start, which should ultimately give her the result she wants.
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Prediction: Elise Mertens to win in straight sets.