ORDER OF PLAY

CENTRE COURT start 12:30 pm
[1] L. Hradecka (CZE) / K. Siniakova (CZE) vs [4] A. Rus (NED) / T. Zidansek (SLO)

Not Before 3:00 pm
[1] A. Sabalenka (BLR) or B. Krejcikova (CZE) vs [2] E. Mertens (BEL)

Head to Head

aryna sabalenka
BLR
66.7% Win 4
Matches Played 6
2 33.3% Win
More Head to Head
elise mertens
BEL

MATCH POINTS

The final tournament of the 2020 season comes down to the Top 2 seeds as Aryna Sabalenka and Elise Mertens face off for the Upper Austria Ladies Linz title. Successful doubles partners since the spring of last year, Sabalenka and Mertens won their first major title at the 2019 US Open, and won their fourth title as a pair last month at the J&T Banka Ostrava Open.

As opponents, the duo have played five highly entertaining matches, with Sabalenka taking a narrow 3-2 edge, having won their previous two clashes. Mertens overcame Sabalenka to win her first clay court title in Lugano back in 2018, and rallied from match point down to defeat the Belarusian later that year at the Coupe Rogers in Montréal. Sabalenka avenged those defeats at the 2019 Hengqin Life WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai and earlier this year at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

Sabalenka is into her third WTA final of 2020 and is looking to not only go three-for-three with wins in Ostrava and the Qatar Total Open back in February, but also tie former World No.1 Simona Halep for most titles won this season. Mertens reached her first final of the year following the COVID-19 lockdown at the Prague Open, where she fell to Halep in the championship match, and is looking to win her first title since the 2019 Qatar Total Open.

Sabalenka was rounding into form just before the WTA season was forced to shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, winning her third career Premier 5 title over Petra Kvitova in Doha, and was decidedly below her best through the summer hardcourt swing that concluded at the US Open, where she bowed out to countrywoman and eventual finalist Victoria Azarenka in the second round.

Following a narrow third round Roland Garros defeat to Ons Jabeur, the Belarusian turned around some major match deficits in Ostrava, avenging a Lexington defeat to American teenager Coco Gauff from 5-2 down in the final set, and then winning the final 12 games against Sara Sorribes Tormo after trailing, 6-0, 4-0. Learning to shine indoors, a surface on which she'd only played twice previously on the tour level, she took further vengeance on Azarenka to win the singles title and later partnered Mertens to sweep the doubles.

She extended her winning streak to eight in a row as the top seed in Linz, rolling through three matches without dropping a set against Jasmine Paolini, Stefanie Voegele, or Oceane Dodin (who retired in the middle of the second set). Up against former WTA Doubles No.1 Barbora Krejcikova, she shook off a second set hiccup to serve out the surging Czech star to complete the championship line-up. By reaching the final, she assured herself of a return to the Top 10, and a first year-end Top 10 finish.

Mertens, by contrast, has enjoyed a bounty of success since the tour resumed in August. Following a first round defeat at the 31st Palermo Ladies Open, she reached the Prague Open final and was next in the semifinals and quarterfinals of the Western & Southern Open and US Open, respectively. After booking a second straight appearance in the last eight of Flushing Meadows, she moved on to Ostrava where she made another quarterfinal, only to take a second straight defeat to Azarenka.

Seeded No.2 in Linz, she's endured her share of tough matches, needing three sets to survive Anhelina Kalinina and former World No.2 Vera Zvonareva, who entered the Linz draw as a wildcard.

Following a more straightforward win over No.5 seed Veronika Kudermetova, she passed one last test against No.4 seed and 2018 Ladies Linz runner-up Ekaterina Alexandrova, who took the first set and pegged the Belgian back from 5-3 up in the final set before Mertens closed the gap in the final two games.

The doubles final features the reunion of a former top team in Czechs Lucie Hradecka and Katerina Siniakova. Hradecka and Siniakova played together for most of the 2017 season to resounding success, reaching the finals of the BNP Paribas Open, Volvo Car Open, J&T Banka Prague Open, and the US Open to qualify for the WTA Finals.

The duo wouldn't make it to Singapore due to an injury to Hradecka, and didn't play again until this week. Hradecka played most of 2020 with Slovenian Andreja Klepac while Siniakova has spent much of the last several seasons with Krejcikova.

Together again, the Czechs have dropped just one set in three matches, closing out No.3 seeds Sorribes Tormo and Irina Bara 10-5 in the match tie-break. Awaiting them in the finals are No.4 seeds Arantxa Rus and Tamara Zidansek. Rus and Zidansek paired up for the first time in 2020 and are already looking to win a second title, having captured the trophy in Palermo. Edging through a 10-6 match tie-break against No.2 seeds Gabriela Dabrowski and Vera Zvonareva, the doubles final will open play on Centre Court before the singles final between Sabalenka and Mertens gets underway.

2020 Linz highlights: Sabalenka battles past Krejcikova