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Azarenka vs Mertens US Open tennis live streaming, preview and predictions

Victoria Azarenka looks to make her first Grand Slam semifinal in seven years as she takes on Elise Mertens at the US Open.

Azarenka vs Mertens is live from New York on Wednesday 9 September, 7pm local/12am BST

Former world no. 1 Victoria Azarenka’s last Grand Slam semifinal appearance came at this same tournament in 2013, when she beat Flavia Pennetta to reach the second of two back-to-back US Open finals. But although Azarenka reached five major quarterfinals in 2014-16, injury, maternity leave and custody battles have all impacted her career, meaning it’s been four years since she’s featured in the last eight at a Grand Slam.

US Open 2020: Tournament information, schedules, latest news and live streaming information for the resilient Grand Slam in New York

Azarenka has suddenly found vintage form out of nowhere, going from an 0-3 record in 2020 to a nine-match winning streak that took her to the Western & Southern Open title and into the US Open quarterfinals. In Elise Mertens, though, she has an opponent who’s also playing some of her best tennis.

Read on for our preview, predictions and live streaming information.

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Azarenka vs Mertens: Head-to-head

Victoria Azarenka and Elise Mertens have never played.

Azarenka vs Mertens: Preview

Azarenka secured her place in a Grand Slam quarterfinal for the first time since the 2016 Australian Open after dropping her first set of the tournament. Having come past Aryna Sabalenka and Iga Swiatek without dropping a set, Azarenka fell behind 5-7 to Karolina Muchova – a Wimbledon quarterfinalist last year and on fine form – and had to dig deep for the first time this US Open. She did just that, stepping up her aggression, attacking the net and doing everything she could to stop Muchova from dominating the match, earning a 5-7, 6-1, 6-4 victory.

The Belarusian is now on a nine-match winning streak and is honestly playing tennis reminiscent of the type that won her two Australian Open titles and saw her play two memorable US Open finals against Serena Williams, who could await in the semifinals if Azarenka can get past Mertens.

Mertens’s run here hasn’t quite got the transformation elements of Azarenka’s, but look at the Belgian’s 2020 season and you see one thing: Consistency, before and after the shutdown. Mertens is 23-8 this year, and has only failed to win back-to-back matches at three of the ten tournaments she’s played.

Elise Mertens is 23-8 in 2020 (PA Images)

Since returning from the six-month hiatus, Mertens is 12-3, having finished runner-up in Prague, made the semifinals of ‘Cincinnati’ and now reached the quarterfinals at the US Open, but until Monday night she had lost to both the top-10 players she had faced during that span and was on an eight-match losing streak against them. Then Mertens faced second seed Sofia Kenin. Although she was 0-2 against the American coming in, Mertens produced a very, very good performance to see off the Australian Open champion 6-3, 6-3, breaking down Kenin’s backhand in a way I didn’t know was possible.

I have never seen Mertens play with such tactical clarity as she has over the past few weeks, and the same tactics which proved so effective against Kenin could also be a winning formula against Azarenka, a similar blend of ‘attacking counterpuncher’. However, Azarenka’s backhand has been on song this entire tournament, and her ability to return down the lines could also prove crucial. Both players are in good enough form, and evenly enough matched, that I think we’re going to see a three-set duel before the winner is decided.

Azarenka vs Mertens: Prediction

Sofia Kenin can make her first US Open quarterfinal if the Australian Open champion can maintain her unbeaten record against Elise Mertens.

Kenin vs Mertens is live from New York on Monday 7 September, 8.30pm local/1.30am BST

Neither second seed Sofia Kenin or ‘Cincinnati’ semifinalist Elise Mertens has dropped a set on their way to the fourth round of the US Open, but something has to give as the two face off for a place in the quarterfinals.

US Open 2020: Tournament information, schedules, latest news and live streaming information for the resilient Grand Slam in New York

Kenin has won both her previous matches against Mertens – can she make the final eight at her home Grand Slam for the first time?

Read on for our preview, predictions and live streaming information.

How to watch Kenin vs Mertens live

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Kenin vs Mertens: Head-to-head

Sofia Kenin leads the head-to-head with Elise Mertens 2-0. Both matches took place in 2019, on grass in Mallorca and on hard courts at the Wuhan Open: In both cases Mertens took the first set before Kenin came back to win in three.

Kenin vs Mertens: Preview

Second seed Sofia ‘Sonya’ Kenin is still somewhat under the radar at the US Open, due to being in the same half as Serena Williams and the resurgent Victoria Azarenka (her potential quarterfinal opponent). But those days are numbered as the American heads into the second week looking very strong indeed.

Neither Kenin nor Mertens has dropped a set so far at the US Open, and they’ve both had some tough players to contend with. Kenin dealt so well with the challenge of Leylah Annie Fernandez in the second round, and although she got her serve broken for the first time at this tournament by Ons Jabeur in the third round, the way Kenin won that Australian Open quarterfinal rematch was exemplary. The world no. 4 came back from 2-4 down in the first set, won it in a tie-break and weathered a barrage of ten aces and 34 winners from Jabeur in a match full of long, draining points.

Kenin’s serve looks like an odd shot because of the way the American looks down and away from the ball throughout it but it’s an underrated weapon, mainly because of the sheer consistency with which the American hits her spots. It’s a major part of what Mertens is up against as she tries to get her first win over the second seed.

Elise Mertens is a former US Open semifinalist (PA Images)

A semifinalist at the Australian Open in 2018, Mertens hasn’t got that far since but she rarely loses early at a major, making the fourth round or better at five of the eight majors played since that Melbourne run (not including this one). A quarterfinalist at the US Open last year, where she lost to eventual champion Bianca Andreescu, Mertens tends to put herself in the position to capitalise on opportunities, and she’s been playing great tennis since the return to competition: Finishing runner-up to Simona Halep in Prague, Mertens made the semifinals in ‘Cincinnati’ and while she hasn’t played any seeds so far in New York, she’s still been up against some very tough players – Laura Siegemund and Caty McNally chief among them.

It’s not difficult for me to see why Mertens has lost her two previous matches with Kenin in three. Mertens plays smart, appealing tennis which works well on fast courts; she uses angles smartly to open up the court, then moves forward to finish off the point. Against Kenin, who is so fast and defensively gifted, Mertens has to go for more on her shots than she is comfortable doing in order to get the American out of position; it’s not something she can sustain for a whole match. With Kenin serving as well as she seems to be, I expect this US Open clash to follow the script.

Kenin vs Mertens: Prediction

From Serena Williams to Coco Gauff, the US Open women’s draw is packed with intrigue but it’s tough to know who will shine at this unusual major.

We break down the women’s singles draw, analyse the contenders and predict the semifinalists and champion as Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka, Karolina Pliskova and Sofia Kenin lead the challengers for the US Open women’s singles title.

US Open 2020: Preview

No fans, little freedom: It’s an unusual US Open for the players, but one that is taking place against the odds. There are plenty of absentees, including six of the WTA’s top 10 – defending champion Bianca Andreescu and world no. 1 Ashleigh Barty among them – leaving Karolina Pliskova, a former runner-up, leading the field.

But all eyes are on Serena Williams, once more going for that elusive 24th major title. If she can snap her four-match losing streak in Grand Slam finals, she’ll win an Open Era record seventh US Open crown, but the draw is paved with pitfalls.

US Open Draw Analysis

Top Quarter

Projected quarterfinal by seeding: Karolina Pliskova (1) vs Petra Martic (8)
Pliskova is the only top-10 WTA player based outside of the USA to be playing the US Open, and she’s not been well rewarded. After opening against Anna Kalhenina, Pliskova could face Caroline Garcia – who is 3-3 against her – with a third-round clash looming against one of the most in-form players right now: Lexington champion Jennifer Brady.

Brady admittedly got one game from Pliskova in a previous meeting, but the American is vastly improved in 2020 and should be a formidable challenge for the Czech, whose only warm-up match was a defeat to Veronika Kudermetova.

Angelique Kerber made a late decision to play the US Open (PA Images)

Another threat is Angelique Kerber, the 2016 US Open champion who decided more or less at the last minute to play. The counterpunching lefty will have to play herself into form, with Ajla Tomljanovic a tricky opening opponent and Alison Riske potentially in the fourth round, but she loves this tournament. Eighth seed Petra Martic, at the bottom of this section, has a smoother route, potentially meeting former quarterfinalist Kristina Mladenovic in the third round and 2019 French Open runner-up Marketa Vondrousova in the last 16. Watch out for Aliaksandra Sasnovich, if the courts are indeed playing fast.

Predicted semifinalist: Kerber (12/1 @ Paddy Power to win her quarter)

Second Quarter

Projected quarterfinal by seeding: Naomi Osaka (4) vs Petra Kvitova (6)
Osaka’s run to the Western & Southern Open final has seen her move up to second favourite with the bookies for the title, and it’s not surprising; the 2018 US Open champion is a world-beater when she’s on song.

The way that Osaka focused in her delayed semifinal to beat Elise Mertens was very impressive, although the Japanese-Haitian player showed signs of physical fatigue at the end, which may cast doubt over her contender credentials.

Naomi Osaka is looking for her second US Open title (PA Images)

So does her draw. Osaka could face Coco Gauff, who beat her at the Australian Open, or former US Open semifinalist Anastasija Sevastova in the third round – that’s after talented compatriot Misaki Doi and hard-hitting Camila Giorgi. The in-form Anett Kontaveit, who came close to getting her first win vs Osaka at the Western & Southern Open, is likely to await in the last 16.

The bottom half of this quarter is also pretty unpredictable. Ninth seed Elena Rybakina was having a dazzling breakthrough season before the shutdown – can she recapture that form? She could face Dayana Yastremska in the third round, while Petra Kvitova – never particularly strong at the US Open – could have to contend with Marie Bouzkova, who beat her at the Western & Southern Open, or in-form Jessica Pegula in the third round. I like Kontaveit’s chances: She’s in superb form, totally disciplined and incredibly fit right now.

Predicted semifinalist: Kontaveit (7/1 @ BetVictor to win his quarter)

Third quarter

Projected quarterfinal by seeding: Madison Keys (7) vs Serena Williams (3)
All eyes will be on Serena Williams after she played well in spurts in the warm up – notably against sister Venus in a three-set thriller in Lexington – but struggled physically and mentally in defeats to Shelby Rogers and Maria Sakkari.

Never forget that Williams has reached the final at four of the eight majors she’s played since returning from maternity leave, including at both the US Opens. The six-time champion hasn’t lost before the semifinals at the US Open since 2007. That’s an incredible record.

Williams doesn’t have a bad draw through the early rounds – Kristie Ahn in the first round, maybe Monica Puig in the second, Sloane Stephens in the third – and at a major she has the huge advantage of a rest day between matches which should avoid the physical struggles of Lexington and ‘Cincinnati’. Williams could face a rematch with Sakkari in the last 16, but a bigger threat might be Amanda Anisimova, the teenager who will be desperate to do better than the 1-6, 1-6 scoreline she achieved against Williams in Auckland in January.

Madison Keys is a former US Open finalist (PA Images)

Madison Keys is a former US Open finalist but the big-serving American has some tricky players in her way, starting with Lexington runner-up Jil Teichmann – just a fantastically in-form player over the past 18 months – in the second round; Zhang Shuai in the third; and Garbine Muguruza, potentially, in the fourth. Muguruza would have been hotly tipped here, after she shook off a lengthy slump to make the US Open final in January, but she had injury concerns coming in; nevertheless she’s got the draw to play herself into form, albeit possibly not Serena-beating form.

Predicted semifinalist: Williams (11/4 @ 888Sport to win her quarter)

Fourth quarter

Projected quarterfinal by seeding: Aryna Sabalenka (5) vs Sofia Kenin (2)
Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin lost to Alize Cornet at the Western & Southern Open, which is less than perfect preparation, and opens against former semifinalist Yanina Wickmayer with a former runner-up, Vera Zvonareva, or fast-rising Canadian Leylah Annie Fernandez in the second round. In-form Ons Jabeur, the trailblazing Tunisian who made the quarterfinals of the Australian Open in January, could be a real threat in the third round, and perennial Grand Slam dark horse Kaia Kanepi – a six-time major quarterfinalist – also lurks in this section, more than capable of blowing Kenin off the court.

Elise Mertens has been on excellent form at the Western & Southern Open (PA Images)

It only gets more packed with contenders in the fourth round: Ekaterina Alexandrova, a player rising quietly but unstoppably, faces three-time US Open champion Kim Clijsters in the first round. Clijsters has unretired before to win the US Open – albeit not after quite such a long break – but has an abdominal injury which has proved difficult to shift, with Elise Mertens, who played superbly at the Western & Southern Open, also in this section.

As if that wasn’t enough – Aryna Sabalenka could face an all-Belarusian battle with the suddenly-on-form Victoria Azarenka in the second round, with Venus Williams and Johanna Konta possibly headed for a third-round duel. Azarenka, Konta, Mertens and Jabeur have all played fantastic tennis in New York this past week; Mertens could be the one to carry it through to a US Open semifinal run.

Semifinalist: Mertens (5/1 @ William Hill to win her quarter)

US Open 2020: Prediction

Semifinals: Kontaveit d. Kerber
Serena d. Mertens

Final: Serena d. Kontaveit

Can Naomi Osaka overcome another in-form opponent in the shape of Elise Mertens and reach the final of the Western & Southern Open?

Osaka vs Mertens is live from New York on Friday 28 August, 11am local/4pm BST

World no. 10 Osaka is looking to reach her first WTA final of 2020 – the perfect way to warm up for the forthcoming US Open, played on the same grounds as the relocated Cincinnati event, where Osaka will be bidding for her second title.

WTA Cincinnati-New York Open: Tournament information, schedules and live streams for the Western & Southern Open

Osaka announced on Wednesday that she would not play the semifinal against Mertens in response to the shooting of Jacob Blake, writing: ‘[I]f I can get a conversation started in a majority white sport I consider that a step in the right direction.’

The USTA, ATP and WTA then issued a joint statement announcing that the tournament would be ‘paused’ on Thursday and resume on Friday 28 August as tennis took a ‘stance against racial inequality’.

On Thursday, Osaka’s management released a statement confirming that she would play against Mertens on Friday at the request of the WTA, despite having been fully prepared to concede the match to the Belgian.

 

Read on for our preview, predictions and live streaming information.

How to watch Osaka vs Mertens live

Western & Southern Open matches including Naomi Osaka vs Elise Mertens are streamed live alongside odds and in-play betting at bet365.

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Osaka vs Mertens: Head-to-head

The head-to-head between Osaka and Mertens is 1-1. Mertens won in three sets in Wuhan in 2017, while Osaka won in the city of her birth last September, 6-4, 6-1.

Elise Mertens has lost her last 14 sets vs top-10 players (PA Images)

Osaka vs Mertens: Preview

The only top-10 player left in the Western & Southern Open draw, Naomi Osaka looked very much like she might be Wednesday’s first seeded casualty on the women’s side as she trailed the in-form Anett Kontaveit 4-6, 0-2. Kontaveit had reached the final of the Palermo Open on clay in the first week of the restarted WTA Tour and had not dropped a set on her way to the quarterfinals despite facing some tough opponents.

But Kontaveit also had an 0-3 record vs Osaka and as the match went on, it became clear why that was. Both women are very powerful baseliners with big serves, but Osaka is both more explosive and more creative, finding angles which elude the more predictable Kontaveit. While both women’s level would rise and fall, Osaka’s top level in the match was higher than Kontaveit’s – and it showed as she reeled off six straight games to take the second set before racing to a 3-0 lead. Kontaveit got back on serve and the battle was intense down the stretch, but Osaka managed to avoid being taken to a third-set tie-break when she broke at the death to win 4-6, 6-2, 7-5 and improve to 4-0 vs Kontaveit.

Like Kontaveit, Mertens prepared for the two-tournament US Open swing by reaching the final of a clay-court International, finishing runner-up to Simona Halep in Prague. The benefit of the added matches after such a lengthy absence from competition for all players has been clear at the Western & Southern Open, where she began by dropping just two games against Rebecca Peterson. The world no. 22 dropped a tie-break set against Kristina Mladenovic, but has otherwise remained blemish-free in wins over Veronika Kudermetova, who had knocked out top seed Karolina Pliskova, and finally qualifier Jessica Pegula. Mertens’s 6-1, 6-3 victory over in-form Pegula, who had ousted Lexington champion Jennifer Brady and fifth seed Aryna Sabalenka, saw the Belgian matching Pegula’s aggression but playing much more smartly, using drop shots, lobs and volleys – all executed very well – in addition to powering off the baseline. Mertens also defended very well, defying Pegula to hit through her and leading the American to commit a lot of errors.

Will Osaka do the same? It depends on what kind of day she’s having. If Osaka is serving well, she will be able to get on the front foot in rallies and then use her shotmaking, especially on the forehand, to open up the court, overwhelming Mertens’s defense. If she’s not, or if the balance of winners to unforced errors is tilted too far towards the latter, then Mertens stands a real chance of snapping her seven-match losing streak against top-10 players.

Osaka vs Mertens: Prediction