World number 16 Elise Mertens will take on Kazakhstan’s and 22nd-ranked Elena Rybakina in the second round of the 2021 Madrid Open on Sunday, May 2. Get the live streaming options of this Elise Mertens v Elena Rybakina match along with its preview, head to head, and tips here.
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Elise Mertens v Elena Rybakina Head to Head
The only previous match between Mertens and Rybakina came at the 2020 Shenzhen Open. Rybakina had won that quarterfinal on her way to ending a runner-up in that competition
Mertens Dispatches Zhang
Shuai Zhang had come into her first round match against Mertens on the back of four successive losses this season and the Dutchwoman extended her winless streak by crushing her in straight sets and moving to second round.
Mertens, who had recently made it to the final of the Istanbul Open – her second of the season – made short work of Zhang, winning 6-3, 6-3 in an hour and 24 minutes.
It wasn’t the smoothest of starts for Mertens who was broken in her very first serving game, but once she found her rhythm there was no looking back. The Dutchwoman broke back immediately and then repeated the dose in the seventh and ninth games too to pocked the first.
Zhang started off with a break in the second set as well only for Mertens to level things out in the second game and then made it 4-1 with a second break of serve. With her opponent unable to come close to breaking back, Mertens sealed off the encounter soon after.
She now faces a tough challenge but would know her opponent’s recent form issues could be worth taking advantage of.
Rybakina Routs Tomljanovic in Opener
Rybakina was coming into this competition off a fitness woe and form issues, but needed just 63 minutes to get past Ajla Tomljanovic in her opener.
Having retired from her opening match in Charleston last month, Rybakina had lost more than she had won this season and that meant there were a few question-marks over her chances in this first round match.
Those were put to bed as Rybakina came back from a break down in the first set and saved four other break-points before carving out two other breaks of serves to clinch the opening set. And once she had done that, Rybakina earned three more breaks of serves in the second set from the six break-points she got.
It was a kind of a win that should boost Rybakina’s confidence not just for her second round here but also for the clay swing to come given what has transpired before this. Because it could all be about getting into some sort of a rhythm for the Kazakh on a surface she has already won a title – at Bucharest in 2019.
Mertens, however, isn’t the easiest of opponents.
Mertens v Rybakina Prediction and Tip
No surprises that Mertens starts off a 1/2 favourite to win this but we need to look at Rybakina’s turnaround in her opener here and take some clues from that. She should put up a fight here but will that be enough to overcome Mertens? We don’t think so.