Following a week of pulsating tennis action, the field at the 2020 Prague Open has come down to the last two women standing: top seed Simona Halep and Belgian No. 1 Elise Mertens.
Halep would be particularly relieved to have made it to this stage of the tournament. The World No. 2 had some tough matches early in the week, and came back from the brink of exit on multiple occasions.
Mertens has had her own sets of problems in Prague. Pitted against quality opponents, the Belgian managed to scrape through by the skin of her teeth - and now finds herself in the reckoning for a sixth career title.
The Belgian historically done very well playing in the summit clash of a tournament. She has a 6-1 finals record, with her only loss coming at the 2017 Istanbul Open.
That sort of a stat would give Mertens some much-needed confidence going into the match on Sunday, especially considering the quality of her opponent. Halep has been in a lot more big matches over the years, and is a multiple Slam champion to boot.
Mertens has always been a solid performer, having made the second week at Grand Slams frequently, but it's the big names that she has trouble beating. A win over Halep here will be a great boost for the Belgian's upcoming Grand Slam campaigns.
Simona Halep vs Elise Mertens head-to-head
The two women have played each other four times, all within the last two years, with Halep leading the head-to-head 3-1. The Romanian also won their latest meeting, which was at this year's Australian Open, with a comfortable 6-4, 6-4 scoreline.
While Mertens did manage a win last year, that came on the faster hardcourts of Doha. Halep remains the big favorite on clay, especially now that she has had enough time on court to move past the initial rusty play.
Simona Halep vs Elise Mertens prediction
Elise Mertens will need to take the initiative early on, and not let Simona Halep dictate. Players have had success against the Romanian this week by keeping her away from the baseline.
Halep has been moving well side to side, but has been caught off guard a lot with drop shots and shorter returns. Mertens is not going to win too many of the long-drawn-out baseline rallies against Halep, but she can take the match out of her hand by putting her in uncomfortable court positions often.
It will take nothing short of a flawless performance to stop Halep in Prague, and now it is up to Mertens to deliver.
Prediction: Simona Halep to win in three sets.
Tournament: Prague Open 2020
Venue: Prague, Czech Republic
Category: WTA International
Surface: Red clay
Prize money: $225,000
Match timing: 1 pm CEST, 4.30 pm IST