HOBART, Australia – No.1 seed Elise Mertens' remarkable record at the Hobart International continued as she moved through to the quarterfinals of the 2020 edition of the tournament with an express 6-1, 6-0 victory over Viktoria Kuzmova.
The champion in 2017 and 2018 is undefeated in Tasmania and now posts a perfect 14-0 winning record on the island after overcoming the WTA World No.61 in 57 minutes.
Mertens had won the only previous meeting between the pair at the 2018 Australian Open, 6-2, 6-1, and a fine serving performance, highlighted by four aces, ensured that she would enjoy a similarly comfortable success.
After an awkward beginning to the match, which was delayed by around two hours due to rain, the Belgian strung together five successive games as her groundstrokes began to find their mark.
She was then unrelenting in the second set, which she won without dropping a game.
“No match is easy, and the score was maybe a bit different than the game scores – there were a lot of 40-alls,” she said. “I did well on the break points and on my big serving points.
“I had to relax my mind during the day. Sometimes the rain comes and you have to wait a bit and I think I managed that well.”
The players reached this stage in contrasting fashions, Mertens blowing by Christina McHale in only 68 minutes while Kuzmova saved match point to overcome Zhu Lin in a match that spanned two hours 45 minutes.
It was, however, the Slovakian who made the stronger start to this encounter, hitting positively in the opening game and forcing a couple of break points. Mertens, who struggled early to find the fluency that she had shown against McHale, had to fight hard to fend them off.
Kuzmova’s forehand continued to fire nicely in the second game but Mertens hit her groove thereafter, winning 78% of points on her first serve and punishing her opponent when she missed hers.
With the WTA World No.17’s groundstrokes now starting to make their mark off either wing, she was able to storm to five successive games, taking the opening set in half an hour.
The momentum in favor of the higher-ranked player was maintained in the second as she broke immediately and established a 5-0 advantage as her 21-year-old opponent struggled to find a solution that allowed her to win points regularly.
All that was left was to complete her work on serve, which she duly did, sealing the match with a second serve that was too strong for Kuzmova.
Mertens will, therefore, play her second quarterfinal of 2020, having reached a similar stage in Shenzhen. Heather Watson, another former Hobart winner, or Fiona Ferro will be next to try to stop her incredible run.