NEW YORK (Reuters) - Belgian Elise Mertens continued her strong run in 2020 by taking down American second seed Sofia Kenin 6-3 6-3 on Monday to reach the U.S. Open quarter-finals for the second straight year.
Mertens, seeded 16th, played solid from the baseline and kept the errors to a minimum to defeat Australian Open champion Kenin for the first time in three career meetings.
Monday’s victory was the 23rd of the year for Mertens -- the most on the women’s circuit in 2020 -- and she has yet to drop a set in her Flushing Meadows campaign.
“It’s always good to look at matches against someone you lose to because you have to be better,” Mertens said in her on-court interview. “Actually I watched a match that I lost against her last time.”
Mertens hit four fewer winners than Kenin but had only seven unforced errors compared to 26 from the American.
“I was just very focused on my game, not too much on her game,” Mertens later told reporters. “She can hit those balls, very short cross-court angles.
“I think my first serve went pretty well. Also throughout the whole match I didn’t really drop anything. That’s I think where I’m most pleased at, that I’m stable at every point.”
Kenin, 21, had not dropped a set and had won 26 of her 28 service games coming into Monday’s fourth round match.
But she started off with a double fault against Mertens and then committed an unforced error and those problems plagued her throughout the match as Kenin slammed her racket on the ground in frustration.
Mertens broke Kenin’s serve three times to take the opening set and then got the crucial break in the sixth game of the second when the American committed three unforced errors to be broken at love.
The Belgian closed out the match with her seventh ace.
In the quarter-finals, Mertens will meet two-times Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka, who came back from a set down to beat Czech Karolina Muchova 5-7 6-1 6-4.
“It’s going to be very difficult to beat her,” said Mertens. “She’s very experienced. She will be trying to find solutions in my game, I’ll try to find solutions on her.”
Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman
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