Fixture: (11) Elise Mertens vs (Q) Danka Kovinic
Date: 18 September 2020
Tournament: Italian Open 2020
Round: Third round (Round of 16)
Venue: Rome, Italy
Category: WTA Premier 5
Surface: Red clay
Prize money: €1,771,082
Match timing: 11 am CEST, 2:30 pm IST
Live telecast: USA - Tennis Channel / ESPN
Elise Mertens vs Danka Kovinic preview
11th seed Elise Mertens will look to progress to the quarter-finals of the Italian Open when she takes on Montenegrin qualifier Danka Kovinic in the third round on Friday.
This will be a clash of two players who have had contrasting fortunes this season. World No. 20 Elise Mertens has been one of the most in-form players of 2020, and her 25-9 record for the year validates that.
The Belgian has made it to the quarterfinals or better in five out of nine events she has played, and has been particularly impressive since the tour restarted. She followed her runner-up appearance at Prague last month with a semifinal showing at the Western & Southern Open.
At the US Open, Mertens made it to the quarterfinals for the second straight year. And at Rome, she hasn't conceded more than six games in either of her two matches.
The 24-year-old will enter the match on Friday with plenty of momentum, and will look to continue her sizzling run.
Danka Kovinic, on the other hand, registered her first win of 2020 at the US Open after starting the year with four consecutive losses. And even that didn't come easy for the 25-year-old; she had to battle hard to subdue the challenge of Lizette Cabrera in three sets.
The World No. 86 managed to build on that in Istanbul. She won a couple of matches there, before seeing her campaign getting halted at the hands of former Wimbledon runner-up Eugenie Bouchard.
Kovinic had bettered her win-loss record for the year to 3-6 before arriving in Rome, where she has won two main-draw matches after coming through the qualifiers.
Elise Mertens vs Danka Kovinic head-to-head
Elise Mertens and Danka Kovinic have squared off only once before this clash, with Mertens leading the head-to-head 1-0. Their meeting took place at the Australian Open this year, where the Belgian blew Kovinic away 6-2, 6-0.
Elise Mertens vs Danka Kovinic prediction
It will be tough for Danka Kovinic to stop the high-flying Elise Mertens, given that the Belgian is doing almost everything right in arguably her best ever season. The 2018 Australian Open semifinalist will look to use her counterpunching skills to wear down the Montenegrin, and is the heavy favorite going into this face-off.
However, it also needs to be noted that Kovinic has put up two of her finest performances in the last couple of days. She pummeled Julia Georges 6-1, 6-0 in the first round, before upsetting sixth seed Belinda Bencic 6-3, 6-1 in the second.
Those wins might inspire her to go one better against Mertens, and continue her giant-killing spree. But considering the self-belief that Mertens has at the moment, she will likely be able to withstand any challenge that Kovinic can put up.
Prediction: Elise Mertens to win in straight sets.