- This Madrid Open quarterfinal will take place on Wednesday, May 5 at 1:00 pm EDT
- Aryna Sabalenka might have expected to play Simona Halep, but Elise Mertens upset the Romanian
- Mertens won their only meeting on clay; we break down her chances to take it on Wednesday
Former doubles partners Elise Mertens and Aryna Sabalenka will be on opposite sides of the net in the Mutua Madrid Open quarterfinals.
Aryna Sabalenka vs Elise Mertens Odds
|Player||Spread||Moneyline||Total at DraftKings|
| Aryna Sabalenka (BLR)||-3.5 (-125)||-245||O 21.5 (-105)|
| Elise Mertens (BEL)||+3.5 (+100)||+190||U 21.5 (-122)|
Odds as of May 4
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After Mertens upset No. 3 Simona Halep in the third round Tuesday, the two co-favorites before the tournament began, Halep and 2020 French Open champion Iga Swiatek, are now out.
Despite Power, Sabalenka Strong on the Clay
Sabalenka’s career won-loss on clay was just slightly under .500 as tennis restarted last August.
But since then, she has gone 12-3 on the dirt.
Her losses have been to top-quality clay opponents: Ons Jabeur, Elina Svitolina and – two weeks ago in the Stuttgart final – Ashleigh Barty.
The conditions in Madrid allow her to use her power to her advantage even more, as long as she can keep the ball in the court.
Aryna Sabalenka vs Elise Mertens Head-to-Head
|22 (May 5, 1998)||Age||25 (Nov. 17, 1995)|
|Minsk, Belarus||Birthplace||Leuven, Belgium|
|9||Career WTA Singles Titles||6|
|No. 7 (Jan. 25, 2021)||Career High Ranking||No. 12 (Nov. 26, 2018)|
|No. 7||Current Ranking||No. 16|
|$7,474,204||Career Prize Money||$7,722,060|
|21-6||2021 Won/Loss record||20-5|
Halep Shocked by Mertens in Third Round
“I think my serve was bad today. She could dominate the return. Then was really tough to get her, to push her a little bit more back. I think she was very solid today. She was moving great, and also, she hit the ball good,” Halep said of the loss of a match she had control of – until she didn’t.
There were 15 service breaks in all.
Mertens had trouble winning games, never mind sets, in their three previous meetings on clay. When they met in Madrid three years ago, Halep won, 6-0, 6-3.
An exceptional win! 🙌
— #MMOPEN (@MutuaMadridOpen) May 4, 2021
But Mertens’s persistence forced Halep, who hasn’t played much in 2021, into rushing and making poor decisions.
That steadiness is something that could also work against Sabalenka, who is capable of glorious highs but also ignominious depths – during the same tennis match.
Mertens a Steady Player, with Upside
The 25-year-old Belgian has been inside the top 25 for all but two weeks since January 2018. (Those two weeks? She was ranked No. 26).
It’s a combination of a good serve, consistency, good results on all surfaces and good hands at the net when she needs them.
In fact, Mertens and Sabalenka both know their way around a doubles court. They were a top tandem for several years.
In 2019, they won the “Sunshine Double” (Indian Wells and Miami) and the US Open. They also won the Australian Open in January although they are, in tennis terms, “seeing other people” as Sabalenka focuses on her singles.
They know each other well.
Aryna Sabalenka vs Elise Mertens Match History
|2020||Linz (F)||Indoor Hard||7-5, 6-2||Sabalenka|
|2020||Dubai (R16)||Outdoor Hard||6-4, 6-3||Sabalenka|
|2019||Zhuhai Finals (RR)||Indoor Hard||6-4, 3-6, 7-5||Sabalenka|
|2018||Rogers Cup Canada (R16)||Outdoor Hard||2-6, 7-6 (1), 6-0||Mertens|
|2019||Eastbourne (R16)||Grass||7-5, 2-6, 7-6 (4)||Sabalenka|
|2018||Lugano (F)||Outdoor Clay||7-5, 6-2||Mertens|
Their only meeting on clay prior to this quarterfinal matchup was three years ago, in the final of a small tournament in Lugano, Switzerland.
Sabalenka, then 19, was ranked No. 61 while Mertens was the No. 2 seed in the tournament and ranked No. 20.
There was a little bit of altitude there as well (900 feet, to 2,200 feet in Madrid). But that’s about all the two occasions have in common.
Sabalenka Fresh for the Quarters
The Belorussian has dropped just 12 games in her three matches coming into Wednesday.
Mertens has had to do a lot more work; the victory over Halep took two hours, 34 minutes. And the rallies were grueling.
Sabalenka’s additional dose of power in the quick conditions, and her vastly superior serve (compared to Halep even on Halep’s best day) will give her the edge, as long as she keeps her cool.
Best Bet: Sabalenka in two sets (+108)
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