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Elise Mertens
Country (sports) Belgium
ResidenceHamont-Achel, Belgium
Born (1995-11-17) 17 November 1995 (age 25)
Leuven, Belgium
Height1.79 m (5 ft 10 in)
Turned pro2013
PlaysRight-handed (two-handed backhand)
CoachRobbe Ceyssens
Prize moneyUS$7,818,101
Singles
Career record343–179 (65.7%)
Career titles6
Highest rankingNo. 12 (26 November 2018)
Current rankingNo. 15 (17 May 2021)
Grand Slam Singles results
Australian OpenSF (2018)
French Open4R (2018)
Wimbledon4R (2019)
US OpenQF (2019, 2020)
Doubles
Career record245–111 (68.8%)
Career titles12
Highest rankingNo. 1 (10 May 2021)
Current rankingNo. 2 (17 May 2021)
Grand Slam Doubles results
Australian OpenW (2021)
French OpenSF (2019)
WimbledonQF (2019)
US OpenW (2019)
Other doubles tournaments
Tour FinalsQF (2018)
Team competitions
Fed CupQF (2018, 2019), record 10–4
Hopman CupRR (2018)
Last updated on: 17 May 2021.

Elise Mertens (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈmɛrtəns]; born 17 November 1995) is a Belgian professional tennis player. A top 15 player in both singles and doubles, she achieved a her career-high singles ranking of world No. 12 on 26 November 2018. On 10 May 2021, she became world No. 1 in women's doubles holding the top ranking for a week.

Mertens has won six singles and eleven doubles titles on the WTA Tour, including two Grand Slam titles in doubles, at the 2019 US Open and 2021 Australian Open with Aryna Sabalenka, as well as eleven singles and thirteen doubles titles on the ITF Circuit. While her most prolific success has come in the form of doubles, including winning both the Indian Wells and Miami doubles titles in 2019 to complete the Sunshine Double, Mertens has also been very successful in singles, including reaching the semifinals at the 2018 Australian Open and the quarterfinals of both the 2019 and 2020 US Open.

Personal life

Mertens was born in Leuven, the second daughter of Liliane Barbe, a teacher, and Guido Mertens, who makes furniture for churches. She was home-schooled and enjoyed studying languages, having learned to speak French, English and Dutch/Flemish. Her older sister, Lauren, is currently an airline pilot and introduced the then four-year-old Elise to tennis. While growing up, Mertens looked up to Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters, and is currently a member of the Kim Clijsters Academy, where she has been training since 2015.[1][2]

Tennis career

Early and junior years

Mertens was a doubles finalist at the ITF New Delhi, alongside Marina Melnikova.

She made her WTA Tour main-draw debut at the 2015 Copa Colsanitas in the doubles event, partnering Nastja Kolar. She won her first WTA doubles title at the 2016 Auckland Open, partnering An-Sophie Mestach.

2017: First WTA singles title and top 40 debut

In January, Mertens won the Hobart International, beating No. 3 seed Monica Niculescu in the final. As a result of this she broke into the WTA top 100 for the first time, on 16 January 2017.

After missing the Australian Open qualifying due to her Hobart campaign, Mertens reached the first round of the St. Petersburg Trophy through qualifying, and lost to Kristina Mladenovic in straight sets. She then competed at the Dubai Championships, where, as a qualifier, she beat Tsvetana Pironkova en route to the second round, where she lost to Agnieszka Radwańska. Despite her loss, Mertens reached a new career-ranking of world No. 69. She then lost in the first round of the Malaysian Open to qualifier and eventual quarterfinalist Lesley Kerkhove. After that, she failed to qualify to both Indian Wells and Miami Open, losing in the first round of qualifying to Sachia Vickery and Alison Van Uytvanck, respectively.

At the Ladies Open Biel Bienne, Mertens upset No. 8 seed Monica Niculescu and beat Mona Barthel en route to the quarterfinals, losing there to eventual finalist Anett Kontaveit.

2018: First Grand Slam semifinal, three titles, Masters double qualification

Mertens began the season by becoming the first woman to win back-to-back titles in Hobart. She defeated Mihaela Buzărnescu in the final, defending her title from 2017. Along with Demi Schuurs, she also won the doubles title.[3]

Mertens' season continued with her main-draw debut at the Australian Open. She defeated qualifier Viktória Kužmová, 23rd seed Daria Gavrilova, Alizé Cornet and Petra Martić, all in straight sets, to advance to her first Grand Slam quarterfinal.[4] In the quarterfinal, Mertens achieved her first victory over a top five ranked player, defeating Elina Svitolina, again in straight sets.[5] With her win over Svitolina, Mertens became the third Belgian woman to reach the last four at the tournament, joining former ranking leaders Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters. In the semifinals she lost to Caroline Wozniacki in straight sets.[6]

After her good form in Australia, Mertens had some difficult weeks. She lost respectively in the first round of Doha, Dubai and Indian Wells and in the second round in Miami. In April, she reached her fourth singles final and second of the year at the Lugano Open in Switzerland. She won the title by beating Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka in straight sets. Together with compatriot Kirsten Flipkens, she also won the doubles title. Two weeks later, she also won the singles title at the Morocco Open by defeating Australian Ajla Tomljanovic, in straight sets.

Mertens lost in the second round at Madrid to top seed Simona Halep. She reached the fourth round at the French Open, defeating Varvara Lepchenko, Heather Watson, and Daria Gavrilova before falling again to Halep, who went on to win the title. Seeded second at 's Hertogenbosch, she lost in the second round to Antonia Lottner.

Mertens started off the grass-court season with first-round loss to qualifier Dalila Jakupović in Birmingham. In Eastbourne she lost in third round to Aryna Sabalenka. At Wimbledon, Mertens lost in third round to Dominika Cibulková.[7]

In the American swing, Mertens reached the semifinals in San Jose as well as quarterfinals in Montreal and Cincinnati. In doubles, she lost the final in Cincinnati and won in Wuhan, partnering Demi Schuurs.

2019: First Premier title, Sunshine Double and US Open title in doubles

Mertens started in Brisbane with a first-round exit against top-10 player and sixth seed Kiki Bertens, she lost the match in three sets.[8] Then in Sydney, she got her first two wins of the season by defeating Katerina Siniaková and Anett Kontaveit before losing in the quarterfinals to Ashleigh Barty.[9]

Defending semifinalist points from last year, she entered the Australian Open as the 12th seed. She won her first and second match in straight sets before falling to 17th seed Madison Keys in the third round.[10] Due to her early exit, her ranking fell to No. 21.

Mertens played Fed Cup in her homecountry for the first time. She was unable to win her two matches against Alizé Cornet and Caroline Garcia. In the week after, she moved to Doha to play the Qatar Open. She began unseeded at this tournament, but she surprisingly won her first Premier title. On her route to the tournament win, she took the scalp of three top-10 players, including Kiki Bertens, Angelique Kerber and world No. 2, Simona Halep. After her biggest career win to date, she came back in the top 20 at No. 16.

Just two days later, Mertens played in Dubai, where she was placed as 16th seed. She lost in her opening-match against qualifier Zhu Lin after a battle of near three hours.

In March at Indian Wells, as the 16th seeded, she lost in the third round in another battle near three hours against 18th seed Wang Qiang. Even though she lost early in singles, she was able to win a big doubles title alongside Aryna Sabalenka at Indian Wells, defeating first seeds Barbora Krejčíková and Kateřina Siniaková in the final. Two weeks later, the pair also won the Miami Open doubles title, completing the Sunshine Double. Mertens and Sabalenka became just the fifth doubles pairing in history, and first since Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza in 2015, to complete the Sunshine Double in doubles. These titles took Mertens inside the top 10 in doubles for the first time.

Mertens had a rough start to the clay-court season, losing in the opening round of four of her first five tournaments (the exception being a quarterfinal appearance in Morocco where she was upset by the eventual tournament champion Maria Sakkari). Seeded 20th at the French Open, Mertens beat Tamara Zidanšek and Diane Parry to advance to the third round, where she was beaten by 12th seed Anastasija Sevastova in a three hour 18-minute match three-set match, despite winning the first set and holding five match points in the decider. Mertens and Sabalenka performed well in the doubles draw, where they were seeded sixth. The pair reached the semifinals, where they were defeated by the No. 2 seeds and eventual champions Tímea Babos and Kristina Mladenovic.

Mertens performed much stronger in the grass-court season warmup events, making the quarterfinals in Mallorca and the third round in Eastbourne (in both tournaments she lost to the eventual champions, Sofia Kenin and Karolína Plíšková respectively). Seeded 21st at Wimbledon, Mertens advanced to the fourth round for the first time, taking out Fiona Ferro, Monica Niculescu and 15th seed Wang Qiang. However, she was upset by world No. 54, Barbora Strýcová, after having a one-set lead. In doubles, Mertens and Sabalenka advanced to the quarterfinals, but were defeated by eventual champions Strýcová and Hsieh Su-wei, the second consecutive Grand Slam the pair lost to the team that would go on to win the tournament.

In the early summer hardcourt season, Mertens struggled to replicate her 2018 success, losing her opening round match in San Jose to Kristie Ahn and falling in the second round of Toronto and Cincinnati to Serena Williams and Elina Svitolina, respectively. At the US Open, in September, Mertens was seeded 25th in singles. She defeated Jil Teichmann, Kristýna Plíšková, and former world No. 9, Andrea Petkovic, in straight sets, before taking revenge on wildcard Kristie Ahn to reach her second Grand Slam singles quarterfinal, becoming the first Belgian woman to reach the last eight since Kim Clijsters won the title in 2010. She once again squandered a one-set lead, going down in three sets to world No. 15 and the eventual champion, Bianca Andreescu. Playing doubles with Sabalenka, the pair reached the final with ease, dropping just one set along the way. The pair then defeated Victoria Azarenka and Ashleigh Barty in the final, winning their first Grand Slam doubles title both as a team and individually. Mertens became the first Belgian to reach a US Open final, as well as winning one, in doubles, and the first Belgian woman to win a Grand Slam doubles title since Clijsters won Wimbledon in 2003. Following the tournament, she reached a new career-high doubles ranking of No. 2 in the world.

Mertens failed to register much success in singles during the Asian hardcourt swing, outside of a semifinal appearance at the Pan Pacific Open, but reached her fourth doubles final of the year with Sabalenka at the Premier 5-level Wuhan Open, where the pair lost to Duan Yingying and Veronika Kudermetova. Mertens' consistency in both disciplines qualified her to compete in both year-end tournaments. She first competed at the WTA Elite Trophy in singles, where she qualified for the second straight year. Drawn in the same group as her doubles partner Sabalenka, she was beaten in three close sets by the Belarusian before defeating Sakkari in three sets. Placing second in her round-robin group, she failed to advance to her semifinals (Sabalenka won the title). She next competed at the WTA Finals in Shenzhen, playing doubles. The pair fell to Babos and Mladenovic in three sets before recording a straight sets win over the Taiwanese sisters Chan Hao-ching and Latisha Chan. Needing a win over Anna-Lena Grönefeld and Demi Schuurs to advance to the semifinals, they were beaten in three close sets, ending their tournament and season. She finished the year ranked No. 17 in singles and No. 6 in the world in doubles.

2020: Prague final, Cincinnati semifinals, US Open quarterfinal

Mertens opened the year by reaching the quarterfinals in both Shenzhen, where she was beaten by Elena Rybakina, and Hobart, losing to Heather Watson. Seeded 16th at the Australian Open, Mertens eased through to the fourth round with straight-set wins over Danka Kovinić, Watson and Catherine Bellis before being defeated by Simona Halep. In doubles, Mertens and Sabalenka reached the quarterfinals where they lost to Chan Hao-ching and Latisha Chan. After losing early in both Dubai and Doha, Mertens was next scheduled to play in Indian Wells, but the tournament was cancelled and the tour suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

When the tour resumed in August, Mertens lost her opening match in Palermo, but bounced back by reaching her first final of the year at the Prague Open. She then lost to Halep for the second time that year. At the Cincinnati Open, Mertens advanced to her first ever Premier 5 semifinal, where she was beaten by Naomi Osaka in straight sets.

Seeded 16th at the 2020 US Open, Mertens opened her campaign by beating Laura Siegemund in straight sets, followed by two-set wins over Sara Sorribes Tormo and 18-year old Caty McNally. She then caused a huge upset by defeating the second seed and reigning Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin, 6–3, 6–3, making it to the quarterfinals of the US Open for the second consecutive year.[11] However, she was thrashed in the quarterfinal by former world No. 1, Victoria Azarenka, winning just one game. Mertens and Sabalenka also played doubles together, where they were the defending champions. However, they were beaten in the quarterfinals by the eventual champions Siegemund and Zvonareva.

Mertens continued in good form throughout to the end of the year. She made quarterfinals at Rome, losing again to Karolina Plíšková in three sets. She lost in the third round of the French Open to Caroline Garcia. She then went to the Ostrava Open and defeated Amanda Anisimova and Karolína Muchová both in straight sets. She eventually lost in a rematch against Azarenka however with a closer scoreline this time. She did not leave empty handed though, as her and Aryna Sabalenka took the doubles title together. She finished off the year with a final finish at Linz Open losing to Sabalenka a couple weeks after winning a title together.

2021: 6th title - 2nd WTA 500, Australian Open doubles title and world No. 1 in doubles

Mertens started off 2021 at the Gippsland Trophy where she beat Mayo Hibi and Caroline Garcia both in straight sets to reach the quarterfinals. There, she beat Elina Svitolina in a match-tiebreaker to advance to the semifinals, where she received a walkover by Naomi Osaka. She easily won the final defeating Kaia Kanepi 6–4, 6–1. This was her first title in two years.

Mertens then went on to the Australian Open. In the first round, she defeated talented youngster Leylah Fernandez. In round two, she scraped by Zhu Lin in a tight match in a match with very strong wind. She faced No. 12 seed Belinda Bencic for the first time in the third round and swiftly moved past her, 6–1, 6–2. Her winning streak at the start of the season ended at seven, when she lost to Karolína Muchová in two very tight sets in the fourth round. She had much more success in the doubles, however. Again playing alongside Sabalenka, entering as the second seeds, she won the first-round match in three tight sets against Cornelia Lister and fellow Belgian Alison Van Uytvanck. They received a walkover in the second round through a withdrawal of their opponents. In the third round, they needed three sets again to dispatch Siegemund and Zvonareva. They follow this with straight-set victories over the Japanese pairing of Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara and Schuurs and Nicole Melichar in the quarter- and semifinals to reach their second Grand Slam final. They faced the third seeds, Czech pair of Krejčíková and Siniaková, and secured their second Grand Slam title with another straight-sets victory. This made Mertens the first Belgian to have reached, and won, an Australian Open doubles final.

Mertens continued her good run of form since the end of lockdown at the Dubai Championships. She reached her second WTA 1000 semifinal beating Viktoriya Tomova, Shelby Rogers, Caroline Garcia for the second time this year and Jessica Pegula in a rematch of their wuarterfinal at the Western and Southern Open in 2020 winning the final eleven games of their encounter from match point down.[12] She went on to lose to the ninth seed Garbine Muguruza, saving six match points until she finally lost on the seventh.

From there, she went to the Miami Open where she made the fourth round, beating Katie Boulter and Anett Kontaveit. She eventually lost to Osaka who was on a 20 match-win streak at the time.

She started the clay-court season well, making the finals of the Istanbul Cup but ended runner-up to Sorana Cirstea. She took this form to Madrid where she beat Zhang Shuai, Elena Rybakina and No. 3 in the world and a two-time champion Simona Halep. To all three of these players she had lost their last match.

Mertens hit a huge milestone in her doubles career at the Madrid Open, with becoming the world No. 1 for the first time after partnering as top seed pair with Hsieh Su-wei, who was the previous Madrid doubles champion and world No. 1.[13]

Playing style

Mertens is a baseline player, whose game blends her excellent defensive skills with aggressive shot making capabilities. Her groundstrokes are hit very flat, with little topspin applied, allowing her shots to penetrate consistently deep into the court, despite Mertens' comparatively slight build. Although both her groundstrokes are reliable, her backhand is stronger, and is responsible for the majority of winners she accumulates on the court; she particularly excels at redirecting power down the line with her backhand. When in good form, Mertens hits a significant number of winners, although this can be accompanied by a large number of unforced errors. One of Mertens' major weapons is her return of serve, hitting many return winners, and effectively neutralising powerful first serves. Mertens' serve is strong, with her first serve peaking at 115 mph (185 km/h) and averaging at 99 mph (159 km/h), allowing her to serve multiple aces in any match; her first serve isn't reliable, however, with her first serve percentage typically averaging 58%. To minimise double faults, however, Mertens possesses an effective second serve, which has a tremendous amount of kick, averaging 79 mph (127 km/h); this also prevents opponents from scoring free points off her second serve. Due to her increasing doubles experience, Mertens is a highly effective net player, and frequently chooses to finish points at the net. Mertens' superlative fitness, stamina, speed, footwork, and court coverage allow her to excel at counterpunching, and extend points until she creates the opportunity to hit low-risk winners; as such, she is one of the most effective players on the WTA Tour at turning defence into offence, due to her excellent point construction. Mertens possesses extreme mental toughness, and has been noted for her consistency and determination on court, making her a formidable opponent.[14] Mertens has stated that her favourite surface is grass, although the vast majority of her success has come on hard courts.[15]

Career statistics

Main article: Elise Mertens career statistics

Grand Slam tournament performance timelines

Singles

Tournament 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 SR W–L Win%
Australian Open A Q2 A SF 3R 4R 4R 0 / 4 13–4 76%
French Open A Q3 3R 4R 3R 3R 0 / 4 9–4 69%
Wimbledon Q3 Q2 1R 3R 4R NH 0 / 3 5–3 63%
US Open Q1 1R 1R 4R QF QF 0 / 5 11–5 69%
Win–loss 0–0 0–1 2–3 13–4 11–4 9–3 3–1 0 / 16 38–16 70%

Doubles

Tournament 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 SR W–L Win%
Australian Open A A 2R 1R 3R QF W 1 / 5 12–4 71%
French Open A A 1R 1R SF 2R 0 / 4 5–4 56%
Wimbledon A 2R 3R 3R QF NH 0 / 4 8–4 67%
US Open A A 2R QF W QF 1 / 4 13–3 80%
Win–loss 0–0 1–1 4–4 5–4 15–3 7–3 6–0 2 / 17 38–15 72%

Grand Slam tournament finals

Doubles: 2 (2 titles)

Result Year Tournament Surface Partner Opponents Score
Win 2019 US Open Hard Belarus Aryna Sabalenka Belarus Victoria Azarenka
Australia Ashleigh Barty
7–5, 7–5
Win 2021 Australian Open Hard Belarus Aryna Sabalenka Czech Republic Barbora Krejčíková
Czech Republic Kateřina Siniaková
6–2, 6–3

References

  1. ^ Bergman, Justin (23 January 2018). "Unseeded Belgian Mertens reaches Australian Open semis". The Toronto Star. ISSN 0319-0781. Retrieved 25 January 2018.
  2. ^ admin (13 January 2018). "Elise Mertens". WTA Tennis. Retrieved 25 January 2018.
  3. ^ "Mertens pulls off historic title defense in Hobart". WTA. 13 January 2018. Retrieved 13 January 2018.
  4. ^ David Packman (21 January 2018). "Mertens' dream AO debut rolls on". Australian Open. Retrieved 23 January 2018.
  5. ^ Piers Newbery (23 January 2018). "Elise Mertens shocks Elina Svitolina to reach semi-finals". BBC Sport. Retrieved 23 January 2018.
  6. ^ "Wozniacki serves up first Australian Open final". 25 January 2018. Retrieved 25 January 2018.
  7. ^ "Cibulkova charges into SW19 second week with Mertens win". 7 July 2018. Retrieved 8 July 2018.
  8. ^ "Bertens bests Mertens in Brisbane first-round barnburner". WTA Tennis. 31 December 2018. Retrieved 19 January 2019.
  9. ^ "Brilliant Barty charges into Sydney semifinals, moves past Mertens". WTA Tennis. 10 January 2019. Retrieved 19 January 2019.
  10. ^ "Keys motors to Mertens win in Melbourne third round". WTA Tennis. 19 January 2019. Retrieved 19 January 2019.
  11. ^ "US OPEN 2020 - Elise Mertens breezes past second seed Sofia Kenin to reach last eight". Eurosport. 8 September 2020. Retrieved 8 September 2020.
  12. ^ "Mertens escapes Pegula, Krejcikova cruises past Potapova in Dubai".
  13. ^ https://www.wtatennis.com/news/2135577/elise-mertens-ascends-to-wta-doubles-world-no-1
  14. ^ "Elise Mertens". Head. Retrieved 14 March 2021. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  15. ^ "Elise Mertens: Bio". Women's Tennis Association. Retrieved 14 March 2021. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)