Victoria Azarenka looks to make her first Grand Slam semifinal in seven years as she takes on Elise Mertens at…
Victoria Azarenka looks to make her first Grand Slam semifinal in seven years as she takes on Elise Mertens at the US Open.
Victoria Azarenka vs Elise Mertens | US Open women's QF | 10/9/2020 12am BSTOver 23.5 games 13/10 Bet Now! New Customers only. 18+. T&C’s Apply. begambleaware.org.
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.
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.
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.