Fixture: (13) Elise Mertens vs (23) Madison Keys
Date: 2 July 2021
Tournament: The Championships, Wimbledon
Round: Third round (Round of 32)
Venue: London, Great Britain
Category: Grand Slam
Prize money: £17,066,000
Live telecast: USA - Tennis Channel & ESPN | UK - BBC TV & Radio | India - Star Sports / Disney+ Hotstar VIP
Elise Mertens vs Madison Keys preview
13th seed Elise Mertens takes on America's Madison Keys in the Wimbledon third round on Friday.
Mertens came into SW19 without a single win on grass for the year. She was defeated in three tight tiebreaks by Ajla Tomljanovic at Eastbourne, and was then knocked out by Coco Gauff at the first hurdle in Nottingham.
At Wimbledon so far, however, Mertens has been in solid form. The Belgian has defeated Harriet Dart and Lin Zhu without dropping a single set to set up the match with Keys.
Keys on her part has been far from solid in 2021. The American has failed to go beyond the quarterfinals at any tournament this year, and has struggled with physical problems throughout.
That said, Keys came into Wimbledon on the back of a decent tune-up performance at Berlin. The 2017 US Open finalist got the better of World No. 4 Aryna Sabalenka in three sets before bowing out in the quarterfinals.
Keys has continued her momentum during the early rounds at Wimbledon too. The American has defeated local favorite Katie Swan and compatriot Lauren Davis in straight sets to reach the third round.
Elise Mertens vs Madison Keys head-to-head
The third-round encounter at Wimbledon is the third meeting between the two players, and Madison Keys currently leads the head-to-head 2-0 over Elise Mertens.
Both of the pair's previous meetings have come at Grand Slam level. Keys defeated the Belgian on her way to the final at the 2017 US Open, and also in the third round of the 2019 Australian Open.
Elise Mertens vs Madison Keys prediction
Elise Mertens, known to be one of the best claycourters on the WTA tour, is not as comfortable on grass. That said, she does have a few good attributes for the surface.
The Belgian's counterpunching abilities make her a real threat; she hits her groundstrokes flat and keeps them low, which helps her redirect pace effectively. Although she may falter on serve at times, her return of serve is excellent and often digs her out of tight spots.
Keys, by contrast, is a more natural player on grass. Her aggression from the baseline coupled with her solid serve makes her a formidable opponent on the surface, as her quarterfinal run at Wimbledon 2015 suggests.
But the American does have a tendency to leak errors, particularly off her forehand.
Given her well-rounded game and better physical condition at the moment, Mertens has the edge going into this encounter. But as their head-to-head record suggests, Keys will be far from a pushover.
Prediction: Elise Mertens to win in three sets.