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Svitolina vs Mertens tennis live streaming, preview and predictions – Defending champion Svitolina targets a return to the semifinals in Montreal

Hannah Wilks in WTA Tour 10 Aug 2018
  • Defending champion Elina Svitolina faces Elise Mertens in the quarterfinals of the Rogers Cup on Friday
  • Svitolina vs Mertens is live from Montreal on Friday at 8pm local/1am BST
Elina Svitolina (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Elina Svitolina continues her Coupe Rogers title defense as she takes on Elise Mertens in the quarterfinals in Montreal on Friday.

Defending champion Elina Svitolina will hope to avenge a one-sided defeat she suffered to Elise Mertens at the Australian Open when the world no. 5 and the rising Belgian face off for a place in the semifinals of the Coupe Rogers.

Svitolina during her defeat to Mertens at the Australian Open  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Svitolina was originally projected to face second seed Caroline Wozniacki in a rematch of the 2017 Rogers Cup final, but Wozniacki was ousted by Aryna Sabalenka on Thursday, only for the Belarusian – playing her second match of the day – to fall to Mertens.

The big drama of Svitolina’s title defense so far came in the second round when the fifth seed, after a first-round bye, faced Mihaela Buzarnescu, the rising Romanian who not only came into Montreal on a high after claiming the biggest title of her career in San Jose but who had beaten Svitolina twice in recent weeks, knocking her out of the French Open in the third round and then ousting her from Birmingham. 

Buzarnescu, in other words, had played a key role in Svitolina’s season getting off track after an impressive first five months which saw the Ukrainian win titles in Brisbane, Dubai and Rome, with her victory at the latter, especially over Simona Halep in the final, had many people talking about her as a potential French Open champion despite never having been beyond the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam. Buzarnescu had other ideas, however, and the defeat seemed to knock Svitolina for six, as she suffered a surprising and disappointing first-round defeat to Tatjana Maria at Wimbledon.

Svitolina has spoken about how disappointed she was by those results and said she has been working hard to get back to her best ahead of the American hard-court season – but opening against Buzarnescu in Montreal, she immediately found herself embroiled in another dog fight, the two splitting sets before Buzarnescu suffered a dramatic ankle injury at 4-3 in the decider and had to be wheelchaired off the court.

By contrast, Svitolina’s third-round victory over Johanna Konta was extremely straightforward. The Ukrainian had a good record against Konta coming into the clash and she was in charge almost from start to finish on Thursday. Konta had already played a few games earlier in the day to beat Victoria Azarenka and set up the clash, so the former top-10 player was at a disadvantage there, but it’s questionable whether she would have been able to do anything about the kind of relentless pressure Svitolina exerted even under ideal circumstances.

‘We had some tough matches in the past. I knew what I had to expect from her. I had to be ready for a very tough match. I think I produced really good and high-level tennis first and second set. Then she was playing well, I thought,’ Svitolina said.

‘In the second set, the level was really good. I felt that I'm getting better and better. In the end, I took the risk and I got rewards for that. I was really happy the way I handled that.’

Next up for Svitolina as she closes in on defending her title is Elise Mertens, the Belgian whose quiet rise up the rankings has been one of the features of this season on the WTA Tour.

Elise Mertens  (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
Ranked outside the top 100 when she won her first WTA title in Hobart as a qualifier in January 2017, Mertens has certainly proved that was no fluke, going on to finish runner-up (to Svitolina) at another WTA International in Instanbul and making semifinals in Bastad, New Haven and Luxembourg before the end of the season. She began 2018 by successfully defending her Hobart title before making a run to the Australian Open semifinals – a run that made curiously little impression, perhaps because the only top player she faced was Svitolina (more on that later). 

Mertens went on to win back-to-back International titles on clay in Lugano and Rabat and made the fourth round of Roland Garros and the third round of Wimbledon, reaching her current career-high ranking of world no. 15 as a result. A semifinalist last week in San Jose, where she beat Konta before losing to Buzarnescu, Mertens has quietly taken care of business so far in Montreal, first weathering a potentially tricky first-round clash with local favourite Eugenie Bouchard before beating Zhang Shuai and outlasting Salabenka in three sets to book her place in the quarterfinals.

Svitolina beat Mertens handily 6-2, 6-4 on clay in Istanbul in 2017, but the tables were very much turned by the Belgian at the Australian Open when she scored a 6-4, 6-0 defeat in the quarterfinals. Svitolina was hampered by an injury, so it will be intriguing to see how and whether she can impose herself on the Belgian in this Montreal clash. Mertens is by no means an out-and-out power player, and Svitolina’s blend of defense, counterpunching and aggression should be a difficult one for the Belgian to deal with. Expect the defending champion to make the semifinals in Montreal. 

Svitolina vs Mertens quarterfinal tennis is live from Montreal on Friday at 8pm local/1am BST

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Svitolina vs Mertens tennis live streaming, preview and predictions – Defending champion Svitolina targets a return to the semifinals in Montreal

Elina Svitolina vs Elise Mertens live streaming, preview and predictions for the Rogers Cup Montreal quarterfinal match on Friday 10 August 2018: Svitolina was trounced by Mertens at the Australian Open, can she turn the tables at the Coupe Rogers?

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