TennisSection previews the 2021 US Open as Aryna Sabalenka (2) meets Elise Mertens (15) in the Round of 16 on Sunday September 5th, 2021.
Aryna Sabalenka and Elise will do battle in the Round of 16 at the 2021 US Open in a match that is between players of vastly different game-styles. It is power vs finesse and aggressiveness vs consistency here, and it will be a very interesting match to watch. The Belarusian is desperately seeking to win her first Grand Slam and seems fully locked in so far here in New York. Mertens is a very experienced player who won’t make it easy for her opponent. Who will get the win and advance to the Quarter-Finals?
Aryna Sabalenka is ranked at a career-high #2 in the WTA world rankings and is also the second seed here at the 2021 US Open. The Belarusian has not played much since her run to the Semi-Finals at Wimbledon, with mixed results. A Semi-Final showing at the Rogers Cup was followed by a First Round loss to Paula Badosa in Cincinnati, so she will have taken a blow to her confidence there. In the First Round she was surprisingly taken to three sets by the unheralded Nina Stojanic but she recovered well from that and has crushed her next two opponents in Tamara Zidansek and Danielle Colline in straight sets. Her 6-3, 6-3 win over Collins was very impressive given that the American had the crowd behind her and was in great form heading into the match, and I wonder if this is the year that Sabalenka finally figures it out and wins a major. If she continues this fine form she should be considered the heavy favorite to advance here over her next opponent Elise Mertens although it won’t be easy.
Elise Mertens is the 15th seed here at the 2021 US Open and is currently ranked #16 on the WTA Tour. The Belgian is a very solid player and while she lacks a major weapon she moves extremely well and never gives any free points away. She has gotten a bit more aggressive with her groundstrokes recently, and will need to develop that further if she is to make the leap into the top 10. Mertens has started strongly here in New York and her Third Round win over the in-form Ons Jabeur was particularly impressive. She was the underdog heading into that match but played some great tennis to nullify her opponent’s power and was able to remain calm during the key points. Mertens is the underdog here yet again against Aryna Sabalenka, but her steady style is exactly the type of thing that would pose a lot of problems to the world number two so she should not be discounted here.
This is the eighth time that the two players will be meeting on the WTA Tour, with Sabalenka dominating the head to head series 5-2 at the moment. I am expecting a very close battle, but the Belarusian should be able to get the win and extend her lead. Sabalenka is a very streaky player but can be incredibly difficult to beat when she is in form, and that seems to be the case here. Elise Mertens is no slouch and will give it her all but while she is an extremely consistend all-court player she does not have the tools to defeat her opponent and will reply on her errors. It certainly is possible that the Belarusian can have an off day and be very erratic but she has been playing very well lately and I see that continuing. Aryna Sabalenka will win a close match here, advancing to the Quarter-Finals here at the 2021 US Open.
Free Tennis Pick and Prediction: Aryna Sabalenka to win in 3 sets
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