World number 13 Aryna Sabalenka will be up against Belgium’s Elise Mertens in their second round match at the 2020 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Wednesday, February 19. The match begins at around 4.30 pm local time (1.30 pm BST). You can find the Aryna Sabalenka v Elise Mertens live streaming options along with itiss preview, head to head and tips here.
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Aryna Sabalenka v Elise Mertens Head to Head
This has been an interesting rivalry with all their four matches having come in 2018-19 period and both players, Sabalenka and Mertens having won two apiece. Their last match came at the WTA Elite Trophy and Sabalenka carved out a three-set win in a fighting, edge-of-the-seat thriller.
Adelaide Semifinalist Sabalenka Looking to Build on 2019
Hard court surfaces have always been Sabalenka’ favourite and she was expected to build on the three titles she won in 2019. Two of them came on hard courts and one on the indoor hard court at the WTA Elite, where she also defeated Mertens.
However, it’s been a strange sort of a start to 2020 for the Belarusian, part of which could be pinned down to a personal tragedy she endured in the off-season. Sabalenka lost her father in the break between the seasons and that would have played no small part in how she has begun, something she has alluded to as well.
Which is her results at Shenzhen and Australian Open – second and first round exits respectively – might not mean too much in the long term. Once in rhythm, Sabalenka has been tough to beat and it should be a matter of when and not if, that happens. Here, at Dubai, Sabalenka started off with a three-set win over Maria Sakkari and will now look at a possible quarterfinal match-up against the top seed Simona Halep if she wins this.
Mertens Grappling to Return to Her Best
Standing in Sabalenka’s path is Belgium’s Elise Mertens, who had lost in the first round of this Dubai Championships in each of her previous two years. Mertens did win the title at Doha last season, but her lack of form late last year pushed her down to 22nd in the world, 10 spots lower than her career-best.
The signs of sparkle have been there at various times recently though. There were quarterfinal appearances at the Shenzhen Open and Hobart International, and then she registered three wins at the Australian Open to make the round of 16 where Halep got the better of her.
Her Fed Cup victories over Zarina Diyas and Yulia Putintseva would have put her in the right frame of mind but more vitally, crushing Wang Qiang 6-3, 6-0 in the Dubai Tennis Championships opening round ensures she enters this match at a level pegging with Sabalenka.
Aryna Sabalenka v Elise Mertens Predictions & Tips
Mertens is only a slight favourite, 4/5 to 10/11 for a Sabalenka victory and there is every chance this match also goes into the third set.
Tip: Over 21.5 games in the match: 5/6 (Click here to get these odds with Unibet)