Elise Mertens vs Kristyna Pliskova: Prague Open Preview and Prediction
World number 23, Elise Mertens takes on 69th ranked Kristyna Pliskova in the first semifinal of the Prague Open.
Mertens has been playing her best tennis of late. She began her campaign by overcoming Italian, Jasmine Paolini in a tight three-setter. The Belgian was ruthless against Camila Giorgi in the pre-quarterfinals. With an 80% winning percentage on her first serve, she won the match 6-4 6-2. In a mouth-watering quarterfinal clash against the in-form Eugenie Bouchard, Mertens outlasted her in three sets blasting 37 winners.
She began well winning the first set 6-4. The Canadian leveled things back taking the second set 6-1. Relying on a crucial break of serve in the decider, Mertens clinched it 6-4.
On the other hand, Pliskova has punched above her weight in this tournament. In a master-class performance, she stunned the second set Petra Martic 6-1 7-5 in the pre-quarterfinals. The Czech was unstoppable as she smashed nine aces and recorded a 100% winning percentage on her second serve. In the quarterfinals, Pliskova was staring down the barrel trailing 5-2 in the first set against Ana Bogdan. Surprisingly, the Romanian retired hurt with a left foot injury giving the Czech a spot in the semifinals.
Strengths of Mertens
A powerful backhand, an effective first-serve and an impressive baseline game are her biggest strengths. However, she needs to improve her court coverage and ensure an accurate second-serve to become a giant-killer.
Strengths of Pliskova
When she is on song, it is her serve that would be calling the shots. Pliskova prefers an aggressive game and would look to finish points quickly. A strong start would be crucial for her chances.
Head to Head record
Mertens leads the head to head record 2-0. This is the first time that both the players are meeting each other on clay.
Having lost in the first round last year, this is Pliskova's best chance to keep her chances alive for the title. Mertens will look to continue her consistency.
Prediction - Elise Mertens to win in three sets
Featured image credits: sofascore.com
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