Simona Halep vs Elise Mertens: Prague Open Preview and Prediction

After a week of competitive action, two solid players square off in the Prague Open final. World number 2, Simona Halep locks horns against 23rd ranked Elise Mertens. 

Having begun her campaign with a tight three-setter win over Polona Hercog in the round of 32, Halep overcame a first-set deficit against Barbora Krejcikova to emerge victorious in the pre-quarterfinals. Despite committing a staggering 10 double faults in the match, the Romanian used her effective all-round game to prevail. 

A vintage performance followed in the quarterfinals as the top seed was ruthless in her 6-2 6-0 demolition of Magdalena Frech. Halep showed no signs of complacency as she outlasted compatriot, Irina-Camelia Begu in straight sets in the semifinals.

On the other hand, Mertens too had to battle hard in her first match of the tournament edging past Jasmine Paolini in three sets. The Belgian displayed her A-game ousting Camila Giorgi in straight sets in the pre-quarterfinals. Against an in-form and more experienced Eugenie Bouchard, the third seed stepped up to the challenge winning the encounter in three sets. 

In what should have been a close match in the semifinals against the big-serving homegirl, Kristyna Pliskova, Mertens emerged victorious clinching the clash 7-5 7-6.

Smashing seven aces and possessing an impressive 76% winning percentage on her first serve, Mertens was in fantastic form. 

Strengths of Halep

Clay being her favourite surface, Halep often puts her opponents on the wrong foot with her splendid mix of offence and defense. Despite not having a powerful game, the Romanian manages it with consistent groundstrokes. However, she must improve her first-serve and reduce her count of double faults. 

Strengths of Mertens

While her backhand is one of the best in the business, Mertens's attacking game has reaped her rich dividends. She has also vastly improved her netplay. But, she must watch out for her inconsistent forehand which may affect her performance against players of the quality of Halep who pounce on small mistakes. 

Head to Head record 

Halep leads the head to head record 3-1. She has emerged victorious the two times they have played each other on clay. 

While Halep has nothing to lose, Mertens will have to play the best match of her life to claim the title. 

Prediction - Simona Halep to win in three sets

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