Fixture: Victoria Azarenka vs (16) Elise Mertens
Date: 9 September 2020
Tournament: US Open 2020
Venue: Flushing Meadows, New York, USA
Category: Grand Slam
Surface: Outdoor hardcourt
Prize money: $39,024,000
Match timing: 7 pm EDT, 4.30 am IST
Live Telecast: USA - Tennis Channel / ESPN | India - Star Sports / Disney+ Hotstar VIP
Victoria Azarenka vs Elise Mertens preview
Victoria Azarenka has returned to the quarterfinals of the US Open for the first time in five years, where she will face the 16th seed Elise Mertens.
Azarenka's form ever since the tour restarted has been awe-inspiring. The Belarusian has come back with the hunger and consistency that had gone missing in the last few years.
She has been striking the ball brilliantly off both wings, reminding fans of her sparkling 2012 season when she went on a tear and recorded 26 wins in a row. Azarenka is currently on a nine-match winning streak, after her triumph at the Western & Southern Open last week.
The two-time Australian Open champion faced a stiff challenge against 20th seed Karolina Muchova in the fourth round on Monday, where she conceded a set for the first time this US Open. But that didn't faze the former World No. 1, as she rebounded in style to register a 5-7, 6-1, 6-4 victory.
Her opponent on Wednesday, World No. 18 Elise Mertens, has also been one of the tour's form players over the last one month. The Belgian entered the US Open on the back of a runner-up finish at Prague and a semifinal appearance at the Western & Southern Open.
The 24-year-old has motored her way to the last eight of the US Open without dropping a set, which confirms her burgeoning self-belief. Mertens' biggest hurrah so far was in the fourth round, where she produced a nearly flawless display to upset reigning Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin 6-3, 6-3.
Also check out: The complete US Open 2020 Schedule
Victoria Azarenka vs Elise Mertens head-to-head
Victoria Azarenka and Elise Mertens have never faced off against each other before, so their head-to-head record currently stands at 0-0. The resurgent Azarenka has the experience of being in two US Open finals, while for Mertens this is a second consecutive quarterfinal at Flushing Meadows.
Victoria Azarenka vs Elise Mertens prediction
Elise Mertens is essentially a counter-puncher, but she can up her attacking game when needed. And that is something she showed repeatedly against Kenin.
The 2018 Australian Open semifinalist ripped 20 winners past the American and made just seven unforced errors, keeping things squeaky clean off the ground. She also produced eight aces, giving her yet more easy points.
By stepping into the court and taking the ball early, Mertens completely outplayed the dangerous Kenin - something that should be a warning for Victoria Azarenka.
However, the erstwhile World No. 1 also passed a tough test in the previous round with flying colors. She managed to down the feisty Karolina Muchova with a mix of brilliant defense and controlled aggression, in a grueling duel that lasted 2 hours 30 minutes.
The two-time US Open runner-up was able to up the ante as the match progressed, which should give her the confidence to tackle Mertens. The inspired Azarenka also seems physically ready to grind it out with the younger generation, which might tilt this match in her favor ever so slightly.
Prediction: Victoria Azarenka to win in three sets.Published 09 Sep 2020, 01:22 IST