In what promises to be a thrilling final at the WTA Prague Open, top seed and world #2 Simona Halep will take on Elise Mertens, seeded third in the Czech Republic. Both will surely be desperate to claim their first piece of silverware since the season resumed, but who will lay their hands on the trophy?
WTA Prague Open Final Prediction
Simona Halep vs Elise Mertens
Head-to-head: Halep 3-1 Mertens
Halep has rather struggled behind her serve this week, particularly compared with her career average on clay. However, she has returned superbly. In fact, she has broken serve in the majority of return games she has played and in her semifinal win over Irina-Camelia Begu, she converted all six of the break points she created. It seems unlikely that she’ll manage to replicate such a clinical performance in the final, but it is an indication of how dangerous Halep can be when returning well.
That said, Mertens has been serving well so far at the WTA Prague Open. She has won over 70% of her service games which is a very good record on clay. She has probably benefitted from facing some poor returners, including Kristyna Pliskova in the semifinals, but she still deserves credit for hitting her spots and remaining calm under pressure. Notably, she saved seven of the eight break points she faced in the semifinals. However, Halep is unlikely to be as forgiving.
She certainly wasn’t in their previous clay-court meetings, which both came in 2018. In Madrid, Mertens found herself on the end of a bruising 0-6 3-6 loss which was swiftly followed by a 1-6 2-6 reverse in the last 16 at Roland Garros. But there is cause for hope for Mertens. She has an excellent record in finals having won her last five, including a 3-6 6-4 6-3 victory over Halep in Doha in 2019, although Halep did avenge that loss with a 6-4 6-4 win in Melbourne earlier this year.
Another cause for concern for Mertens is her record against top-ten opposition, which is far from stellar. She has lost six matches on the bounce against players ranked inside the top ten and she has never beaten a top-ten player on clay. That does not bode well for her chances against the former-French Open champion. So whilst Mertens has shown enough this week to suggest she may be able to trouble Halep, expect the Romanian’s affinity for clay-court tennis to prove decisive.
Prediction: Halep in 3
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