Sun, 01 Oct 2023

Paris [France], June 2 (ANI): The No.28 seed Elise Mertens continued her fine form at the ongoing French Open 2023 as she defeated No.3 seed Jessica Pegula in the third round on Friday.

It took one hour and 22 minutes for Mertens to clinch a place in the fourth round with a 6-1, 6-3 victory over Jessica Pegula.

She will next play 2021 finalist Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who defeated No.24 seed Anastasia Potapova 4-6, 6-3, 6-0 to advance to the second round of a Grand Slam for the first time after returning from injury.

Mertens performed a tactical masterpiece to dominate Pegula before coming through a close second set that might have gone anyway.

As she raced to a 6-1, 1-0 lead, the 27-year-old's game was working in every facet. In the first set, she had nine wins to only four unforced errors, including a sequence of superbly weighted drop shots, a flicked backhand pass at full stretch, and a number of thunderous overheads that reminded me of her excellent doubles career.

Mertens even brought up a break opportunity at the opening of the second set with a reckless mishit lob winner on the baseline, which he deservedly converted for an early lead.

However, a pair of double faults in the next game drew Pegula into the match. As she found a foothold in the match, the five-time Grand Slam quarterfinalist broke back and began using the drop shot to great success.

The decisive game was a five-deuce slugfest, which Mertens won 5-3. The former No.12 changed tactics to slow down rallies, and she saved one of three break points she faced in this game with a classic clay-court defence-to-offence exchange.

Elsewhere, Pavlyuchenkova and Potapova had previously met in a three-hour, 20-minute barnburner in the first round of Istanbul 2021, in which Potapova won 7-6(2), 6-7(8), 6-4. The rematch similarly required a deciding set, but Pavlyuchenkova won in one hour and 51 minutes after winning the last nine games in a row in the French Open 2023 in the third round. (ANI)

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