RABAT, Morocco - Defending champion and top seed Elise Mertens eased back into the quarterfinals of the Grand Prix De SAR La Princesse Lalla Meryem on Wednesday with a 6-4, 6-0 win over Serbia's Ivana Jorovic.
After the players traded breaks over the first five games, the World No.18 settled in well against the 21-year-old Serb, only facing one break point for the rest of the match and capturing the last seven games.
"I think my serve wasn't as good as the first match, but I managed to get the win and battle on the clay," Mertens said.
"In the second there, there were a lot of deuces, advantage in the games, so it was a really tight match overall."
Mertens has now won her last seven matches in Rabat, including the last five in straight sets.
She did not lose a set in four of her five matches in winning the title a year ago, and has dropped just nine games in four sets so far this week.
"You just try to win every point in every game, and you never know what's going to happen," Mertens said of her streak. "You have to be ready every point, and that's what I try to do."
Up next for the top seed is No.6 seed Maria Sakkari, who defeated Bulgarian wildcard Isabella Shiniakova in straight sets, 6-4, 6-4, in Wednesday's second round.
The pair will be meeting for the sixth time overall, but first in three years and for just the second time since their teenage years on the ITF Circuit.
The Belgian holds a 3-2 head-to-head edge, but lost their lone tour-level meeting in Australian Open qualifying in three sets in 2016.
"It was a long time ago already," Mertens assessed of their last match. "I know her from juniors, so we go way back. I'm just going to fight through the whole match. She's a great clay court player, so hopefully, we have a good match tomorrow."