Roland Garros 2021: Maria Sakkari vs Elise Mertens preview, head-to-head & prediction

Maria Sakkari
Maria Sakkari

Match details

Fixture: (17) Maria Sakkari vs (14) Elise Mertens

Date: 5 June 2021

Tournament: Roland Garros 2021

Round: Third round (Round of 32)

Venue: Paris, France

Category: Grand Slam

Surface: Red Clay

Prize money: €17,171,108

Match timing: Approx. 4 pm local time, 2 pm GMT, 10 am EST, 7.30 pm IST

Live telecast: USA - NBC Sports / Tennis Channel | UK - ITV | India - Star Sports / Disney+ Hotstar VIP

Maria Sakkari vs Elise Mertens preview

Familiar foes Maria Sakkari and Elise Mertens will lock horns in the third round of the 2021 French Open on Saturday.

Although Sakkari, 25, dazzled on hardcourts at the start of the season, including a run to the Miami Open semifinals, she has struggled to replicate those efforts on clay. In three tournaments, the Greek managed to win a grand total of four matches.

But the World No. 18 seems to have found some form at Roland Garros, where she blitzed through her opening two matches, dropping just five games apiece against Katarina Zavatska and Jasmine Paolini.

She can't afford to drop her level in her next round against Mertens, who knows her game inside out having risen through the junior ranks together.

Elise Mertens
Elise Mertens

Elise Mertens, also 25, made a fantastic start to the season, winning the title at the Gippsland Trophy and reaching the semis in Dubai. The Belgian made a smooth transition to clay, advancing to the final in Istanbul and quarterfinals in Madrid.

A thigh injury, however, disrupted her momentum in Madrid. She returned to action in Rome but was clearly not at her best, bowing out in the opening round.

She has continued to struggle at Roland Garros as well. Mertens was tested in the first set of her opener against Storm Sanders and also had to work hard to see off the tricky Zarina Diyas 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 in the second round.

Mertens will need to quickly address the chinks in her armor if she wants to continue her journey in Paris.

Maria Sakkari vs Elise Mertens head-to-head

Elise Mertens leads Maria Sakkari 4-3 in the head-to-head. A handful of their meetings took place on the ITF circuit when the two were coming up the ranks.

On the WTA Tour and at Grand Slam level, they have met just thrice, with Sakkari winning two of those matches, including at the Australian Open qualifying in 2016.

Their most recent showdown at Zhuhai in 2019, however, went the way of the Belgian.

Maria Sakkari vs Elise Mertens prediction

Maria Sakkari
Maria Sakkari

While Elise Mertens has a better record on clay, it is Maria Sakkari who is the favorite in this clash given her recent form and the Belgian's struggles.

Mertens likes to take the ball early and her speed and footwork are valuable assets on the red dirt. A counterpuncher by nature, the Belgian also doesn't hesitate to move forward to finish points at the net.

However, since her thigh injury, Mertens hasn't been hitting the ball with the same accuracy or confidence. In her second-round match against Diyas, the Belgian had a chance to go up 5-3 in the opening set but failed to capitalize and then lost her way as she conceded the set.

She was able to overcome the setback and snatch a victory but she cannot afford such lapses against a player of Sakkari's caliber. Sakkari bludgeoned 29 winners past Paolini in her last match and made just 20 unforced errors.

The big-hitting Greek has been playing at a high level and if she can maintain that against Mertens she should be able to advance to the fourth round of the French Open for the first time in her career.

Prediction: Maria Sakkari to win in three sets.

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Edited by Arvind Sriram
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