Elise Mertens is disappointed after a miss in the first quarterfinal Roland Garros: “I was close, but still far from it”

© Belga

No first quarterfinal at Roland Garros for Elise Mertens (WTA 28). The 27-year-old from Limburg looked to have easily outclassed Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (WTA 333) in her fourth round, but still took the match 6-3, 6-7, 3-6. “I was close to it, but at the same time very far from it.”

Martin Delvaux

Elise Mertens will probably spend some time in bed Sunday night thinking about the fifth game of her second set against Pavlyuchenkova. Leading 6-3 and 3-1, our compatriot missed no less than seven break points, a huge chance of a semi-assured bonus for her first quarter-final on the gravel of Paris. Until that tipping point, Mertens had a firm grasp on the pace. Limburger had continued in the first set on a good flow following her impressive win against world number three Jessica Pegula. Traditionally encouraged by Belgian court Philippe-Chartrier, Mertens forced Pavlyuchenkova into error thanks to a very strong defence. The Russian had played in the final at Roland Garros in 2021 but following a knee injury and seven months of inactivity, she had fallen in the world rankings. Pavlyuchenkova didn’t know what to do with the strong wind and the never-ending Mertens.

“Maybe I could have done something different in the fifth game”

Kat in ‘t Bucky to best Belgium in the world rankings, it seemed. But then the Russian player drew his last straw in the fifth game of the second set. “It’s a shame I couldn’t win that game. Maybe I could have handled it differently, but it’s a snapshot. It just has to go by too quickly,” Mertens said in Sproza’s perspective. Later, the hard-hitter from Samara suddenly started aiming his risky deliveries between the lines. Pavlyuchenkova took the second set in a convincing tiebreak and overcame a clearly frustrated Mertens in the third set. Just like in their first two games, the Belgian had too many problems on his serve. No less than sixteen double faults. “Tennis is a very beautiful sport, but it is also difficult because you are alone on the court. Any moment in the match can change the momentum. In the third set, I felt it was getting tougher and tougher. I tried to play forward but he hit it really well. She can come out from anywhere anytime and this is also her quality. Of course it’s sad and I’m disappointed that I didn’t take my chance.

© Belga

Mertens received medical treatment in the third set and moved with greater difficulty throughout the court. The ball of the fifth match was fatal for him. “I continued to push in the third set despite a hip problem that prevented me from running normally to the left and hitting my backhand, but it was not enough. I was close, but still far away. Of course it’s disappointing, but my motivation and passion for the game is still alive. That’s tennis: the coin doesn’t always land on the right side. I will do everything I can to get back to 20th in the singles rankings and I am still in the doubles tournament.” In favor of Australian Storm Hunter, Mertens can still try to qualify for the quarter-finals.

(Tags to translate) Elise Mertens (T) Roland Garros

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