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Barty vs Mertens tennis live streaming, preview and predictions – Can Barty make back-to-back WTA Sydney semifinals?

Hannah Wilks in WTA Tour 9 Jan 2019
  • Ashleigh Barty faces Elise Mertens in the quarterfinals of the Apia International Sydney on Thursday
  • First meeting between the pair
  • Barty vs Mertens is live from Sydney on Thursday at 2.30pm local/3.30am GMT
Ashleigh Barty (PETER PARKS/AFP/Getty Images)

Australian Open semifinalist Elise Mertens aims to bring Ashleigh Barty back down to earth in the quarterfinals of the Apia International Sydney.

 Can home favourite Ashleigh Barty back up her big win over Simona Halep by beating another classy opponent, Elise Mertens, to reach the Apia International Sydney semifinals?

Ranked world no. 15 but unseeded in a Sydney field that’s packed with stars – and remains so as the quarterfinal stages approach – Barty has recorded two fine wins to make the quarterfinals for the second straight year: First beating 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko 6-3, 6-3, then beating world no. 1 Simona Halep 6-4, 6-4 to make the last eight.
Halep was playing her first match since Beijing last October, having seen the end of her 2018 season badly affected by a back injury, whereas Barty had sharpened up for Sydney by appearing at the Hopman Cup exhibition last week where she went 2-1, defeating Alize Cornet and Garbine Muguruza but losing to Angelique Kerber.

Nevertheless the Romanian was fairly comprehensively outplayed by a confident Barty, who showed few signs of the tentativeness or indecision which sometimes seems to afflict her on the court and instead imposed herself on the match, hitting 26 winners despite windy conditions. On the only occasion that she fell behind by a break, Barty was able to break straight back, with her slice backhand working particularly well in the wind which seemed to frustrate Halep.

Runner-up to Kerber in last year’s Apia International Sydney final, Barty has reached the third round of the Australian Open both of the last two years and recorded her best Grand Slam result at the US Open last year when she made the round of 16. Still just 22, Barty has established herself firmly in the top 20, consolidating her breakthrough 2017 season with titles in Nottingham and Zhuhai in 2018 as well as semifinal appearances in Strasbourg, Montreal and Wuhan. Now can she push upwards to the top 10?

Standing in Barty’s way in Sydney is the tenth seed Elise Mertens – a woman just one year older than Barty and ranked three places higher at world no. 12. 

Elise Mertens (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)
Mertens had a fairly incredible season in 2018 which didn’t get as much attention as it perhaps should have, starting with successfully defending the title in Hobart she had won as a qualifier a year previously, followed by a run to the semifinals of the Australian Open. Mertens didn’t perhaps face the toughest players in Melbourne – before facing (and defeating) fourth seed Elina Svitolina in the quarterfinals, she had only faced one seed, 23rd seed Daria Gavrilova – but she would back up that run with two more International-level titles in 2018, winning Lugano and Rabat, as well as with fourth-round finishes at the French and US Opens and a semifinal showing in San Jose, among other results.

The Belgian definitely ran out of steam as her season went on, going 3-5 after the US Open, but while her game isn’t particularly flashy, it’s very effective and still has plenty of room for improvement, so t will be fascinating to see how Mertens evolves in 2019. 

Defeated in three sets by Kiki Bertens in the first round of the Brisbane International last week and with the defense of her Australian Open semifinal points looming, Mertens has opted to play the Premier-level Sydney event rather than defending her International-level Hobart title this week and she’s had two good wins there, beating Katerina Siniakova in three sets and a calamitously error-prone Anett Kontaveit 6-3, 6-1 to reach her first WTA quarterfinal of the season.

A consistent baseliner with a nice line in groundstroke winners off both wings, Mertens doesn’t perhaps have the versatility of Barty and her serve isn’t the point-winning shot that the Australian’s can be when it’s firing, but her game is streamlined and effective and she moves very well. The two women have never met, but Barty is playing some of her best and most confident tennis right now and if she can maintain the proactive attitude she showed against Halep, looking to take charge of the points, she could be looking at her second Apia International Sydney semifinal in as many years and another win over a higher-ranked opponent. 

Barty vs Mertens tennis is live from Sydney on Thursday at 2.30pm local/3.30am GMT

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Barty vs Mertens tennis live streaming, preview and predictions – Can Barty make back-to-back WTA Sydney semifinals?

Ashleigh Barty vs Elise Mertens live streaming, preview and predictions for the WTA Apia International Sydney quarterfinal match on Thursday 10 January: Australian Open semifinalist Mertens out to bring home favourite Barty back to earth after the Aussie’s big win over Simona Halep

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