Fixture: (2) Karolina Pliskova vs (11) Elise Mertens
Date: 19 September 2020
Tournament: Italian Open 2020
Venue: Rome, Italy
Category: WTA Premier 5
Surface: Red clay
Prize money: €1,771,082
Match timing: Not before 7 pm CEST, 10:30 pm IST
Live telecast: USA - Tennis Channel / ESPN
Karolina Pliskova vs Elise Mertens preview
In an intriguing quarterfinal clash at the Italian Open on Saturday, the year's most prolific player on the WTA tour, Elise Mertens, meets the defending champion and second seed Karolina Pliskova.
No player has won as many matches in 2020 as Mertens has. Her consistency all season has been spectacular, and even the long break due to the pandemic couldn't stop her momentum.
In fact, the World No. 20 came back even stronger after the resumption of the tour. She made it to the final in Prague, the semifinals at the Western & Southern Open and the quarterfinals at the US Open, all in the space of a month.
Mertens' 6-4, 6-4 victory over qualifier Danka Kovinic in Rome on Friday was her 26th of the season, making her the only one till now to reach that number.
Meanwhile, World No. 4 Karolina Pliskova has had her moments this season but has been lacking the one thing that Mertens has had - consistency. A blazing start to 2020 saw Pliskova successfully defend her Brisbane crown, but since then she has flattered to deceive.
She has reached the quarterfinals only twice in her next six events, and that includes Rome. The former World No. 1 clearly hasn't been able to maintain the level she is expected to play at.
Karolina Pliskova vs Elise Mertens head-to-head
Karolina Pliskova and Elise Mertens have crossed swords only once before, with Pliskova leading the head-to-head 1-0. Their only meeting took place on the lush green lawns of Eastbourne in 2019, which the Czech won in straight sets.
Mertens found it hard to deal with the quick surface and Pliskova's pinpoint accuracy on her groundstrokes, succumbing to a 1-6, 2-6 defeat.
Karolina Pliskova vs Elise Mertens prediction
Karolina Pliskova has won the Italian Open before, but it is Elise Mertens who has been the form player this year. The Belgian has shown a new level of poise and belief lately, and she can use that to turn the tables on Pliskova this time.
Mertens' counterpunching skills and solid defence could help her in breaking down the Pliskova game. Clay is not the most natural surface for the lanky Czech, and Mertens wouldn't let go of any opportunity to test the 28-year-old's slightly sluggish footwork.
Besides, Pliskova hasn't been serving too well lately, as seen in her third-round match against Anna Blinkova.
The Czech made five double faults in that contest, and even got broken while serving for the match. A similar performance could prove costly against the highly motivated and hungry Mertens, who is searching for her first title of the year.
Prediction: Elise Mertens to win in three sets.Published 19 Sep 2020, 00:46 IST