Just two women remain in contention at the WTA Gippsland Trophy, with both surely desperate to ensure the perfect preparation for the Australian Open, which begins on Monday. But will it be Belgium’s Elise Mertens or Kaia Kanepi of Estonia who lifts the title at Melbourne Park?
WTA Gippsland Trophy Final Prediction
Elise Mertens vs Kaia Kanepi
Head-to-head: Mertens 1-1 Kanepi
Mertens, who ended her 2020 season with a run to the final at the WTA Linz Open, has started 2021 in impressive fashion. She opened her campaign at the WTA Gippsland Trophy with a comprehensive 6-2 6-2 win over Mayo Hibi of Japan, after a first-round bye, before snapping a three-match losing streak against Caroline Garcia with a 7-6 6-3 win to reach the quarterfinals. There she beat Elina Svitolina in a deciding match tiebreak, before Naomi Osaka’s withdrawal handed her a place in the final.
Kaia Kanepi, unseeded at the WTA Gippsland Trophy, endured a difficult start to her week in Melbourne, losing the first set of her first-round match to Astra Sharma. But she battled back to win 1-6 7-5 6-2. She then won a seesawing second-round encounter with Aryna Sabalenka, 6-1 2-6 6-1, before finding her feet with a 7-5 6-1 win over Daria Kasatkina. Karolina Muchova then withdrew ahead of their quarterfinal clash. Then, in the semifinals, Kaia Kanepi beat Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-3 7-6 to reach the final.
This looks set to be a closely contested final. Their first meeting, which came in Charleston in 2019, was won by Kanepi, 6-0 0-6 7-5, a defeat that was avenged by Mertens last season at the French Open in the second round. And the Belgian may be confident about her chances once again. The court surface should favour her consisting, penetrating groundstrokes. Kanepi has the power to trouble Mertens, but she can also struggle to maintain the required accuracy.
Prediction: Mertens in 3
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