PARIS, France - No.16 seed Elise Mertens was tested in the second round by the tricky Kaia Kanepi, winning in two close sets to seal her spot in the third round at the French Open.
Mertens has been one of the most consistent players since the WTA season’s restart, reaching the Prague Open final in her second tournament back and posting a quarterfinal appearance in Rome. She also turned heads on hardcourts, reaching the semifinal at the Western & Southern Open and quarterfinals at the US Open.
She brought all that momentum into her second-round battle against Kanepi on Court 7, battling through in two sets to win, 6-4, 7-5.
“I'm pretty pleased about my performance,” Mertens reflected in her post-match press conference. “I think I served better in this match, and I really had to put pressure, because she's a good, hard hitter. When she's directly to the ball, she can hit very hard, she can hit those angles...
“She has a really good first serve, so I tried to play a bit more aggressive, because otherwise she was getting into the court.”
Mertens was dialed in from the start against Kanepi, keeping the Estonian’s serve under pressure. She created three break chances in Kanepi’s first service game, before finally breaking through a few games later to take a 3-1 lead.
Kanepi never faded away, and she raised her level to break Mertens as the Belgian served for the set, 5-4. But Mertens kept her composure and continued to hone in on second serves as she closed it out a game later, 6-4.
The second saw Mertens playing catch-up as Kanepi claimed the first break of the set to take a 2-1 lead. Kanepi led by a break twice in the second set, but both times Mertens broke straight back to bring them level. With Kanepi eager to force a tiebreak and a third set, Mertens claimed the decisive break to end the Estonian’s comeback effort and wrap up the victory 6-4, 7-5.
Through to the third round in Paris for the fourth year in a row, Mertens awaits the winner between Caroline Garcia and Aliaksandra Sasnovich.
“I played Sasnovich in Palermo. It was the first match back, so that wasn't my greatest match,” Mertens reflected. “I have a lot to learn about that match. Garcia, I never really played her before I think. Maybe in the past, like, years ago.
“I'll definitely look at the match they are playing today to just know how they are playing on clay.”