WTA Prague Tennis Picks, Predictions: Mertens Will Struggle With Linette (July 25)
Via Sebastian Frej/Getty Images. Pictured: Magda Linette.
The WTA Tour is back onto hard courts as preparation for the US Open begins in Prague,
I’ve found betting value for two of Monday's matches, and I'll share my best bets and previews below.
Note: Match times are subject to change. Read here for tips on viewing tennis matches.
Elise Mertens (-245) vs. Magda Linette(+194)
6:30 a.m. ET
Elise Mertens hasn't played since falling to Ons Jabeur in the round of 16 at Wimbledon. Mertens had struggled in her comeback since injuring herself in Istanbul, going just 6-5 coming into Wimbledon, and this was the first time since then that she had put together a decent run of form.
Mertens will be thrilled to get back onto the hard courts, where she has a 252-125 record in her career, although she's just 10-7 this season. Mertens showed incredible foot speed, anticipation and fighting spirit at Wimbledon, but she has struggled since coming back from injury, especially when attempting to generate power. Mertens is content to hit soft groundstrokes centrally and defend.
Magda Linette has also not played since Wimbledon when she lost her second-round match to Angelique Kerber. While Linette has a higher career winning percentage on clay (60%) versus hard (58%), it's clear that the Pole is comfortable playing on hard courts. All of Linette's biggest professional titles, the $125k in Ningbo along with the WTA titles in the Bronx and Hua Hin, have come on hard courts.
Linette is a good ball striker and all-around solid player. She has good movement around the court and effectively plays with controlled aggression when she has the chance, especially from the forehand wing. Linette hits her spots with her serve and understands how to construct points on a hard court. However, at times, the Pole's backhand can become erratic.
Mertens picked up a few wins in London, but the defensive nature of her playing style hasn't changed, and this will lead to issues. Linette has the rally tolerance to hang in there with Mertens from the baseline, and she also can finish off rallies if Mertens leaves any of her shots short.
Linette is a competent hard-court player with a high tennis IQ and good controlled aggression. I expect her to dictate from the baseline against an overly-passive Mertens. The Belgian won't successfully pin Linette in her backhand corner, and Linette should keep this match close.
Pick: Linette +3.5 Games (-104 via FanDuel)
Tereza Martincová (-440) vs. Chloe Paquet (+320)
9:30 a.m. ET
Tereza Martincová hasn't played since a first-round exit at Wimbledon, but she will surely be excited to participate in her home country's event. Martincová has a 199-141 record on hard courts as a professional, despite being just 6-7 on the surface this season. Her 59% winning percentage on hard courts is higher than her winning percentage on both clay (55%) and grass (50%).
Martincová has a complete game. She moves around the court very well, anticipating where opponents are going with their shots. She is solid from both wings and gets consistent depth on her groundstrokes. Martincová has good variety and can effectively take advantage of short balls, although she doesn't have overwhelming power by any stretch of the imagination.
Chloe Paquet has been grinding it out on clay in recent weeks, losing from a set up against Caroline Garcia in the first round of Palermo last week. Paquet has a nearly-even 130-127 record on hard courts in her career, with a 10-8 record in 2022.
Paquet has utilizes her first serve effectively, with good pace and good direction on her first delivery. And, from the baseline, the Frenchwoman is very solid and forces her opponents to go bigger to hit through her. However, Paquet is very passive from the baseline and struggles to play with controlled aggression.
While Paquet's first serve is a weapon, when it comes to their baseline games, Martincová is clearly the better player. The Czech can match Paquet's consistency and also has more weapons and better variety that will allow her to take control of points.
It's true that Martincová has lost four matches in a row, but she injured herself in Nottingham (start of the losing streak), and grass is her worst surface anyways.
When looking at Elo ratings, it's important to note that Martincová's overall Elo is 240.5 points higher than Paquet's, and her hard-court Elo is 242.8 points higher than the Frenchwoman's.
Martincová should win this match with ease.
Pick: Under 20.5 Games (-125 via FanDuel)