WTA ‘s-Hertogenbosch Tennis Odds, Predictions: Mertens to Struggle Against Van Uytvanck (June 9)

WTA ‘s-Hertogenbosch Tennis Odds, Predictions: Mertens to Struggle Against Van Uytvanck (June 9) article feature image

Anadolu Agency/Getty. Pictured: Elise Mertens

While Wednesday brought rainy weather to 's-Hertogenbosch, that just makes Thursday's order of play all-the-more enticing.

I've found two spots on Thursday's card where value has presented itself.

Read on for my best bets and previews.

Match times are subject to change. Read here for tips on viewing tennis matches.

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Ann Li (-244) vs. Kirsten Flipkens (+185)

6:30 a.m. ET

Ann Li got her grass-court season off to a hot start in 's-Hertogebosch. Li defeated Liudmilla Samsonova 6-3, 6-4.

Against Samsonova, Li won 61% of her service points and only was broken once all match. On return, Li won 54% of her second-serve return points.

That was important, as Samsonova only put 48% of her first serves into play. While Samsonova played hit-or-miss tennis, the American was steady from the baseline.

Li is a former junior Wimbledon finalist, so don't let her 4-7 professional record on grass fool you. Even on the grass, Li is able to get a lot of balls back into play and her groundstrokes cut through the court nicely. Li also did a great job against Samsonova of hitting precise, aggressive shots into small windows.

Kirsten Flipkens announced she was retiring at Wimbledon this season, but she is still playing in the meantime. In the first round of 's-Hertogenbosch, Flipkens beat Anastasia Tikhonova 6-2, 5-7, 6-3.

Flipkens did a great job of neutralizing Tikhonova's first serve, as she won 45% of her first-serve return points and managed to break the Russian's serve seven times. Flipkens also protected her own second serve well, winning 19-of-33 second-serve points.

Whether it be her chip returns, backhand slices that cut low through the court or her excellent net play, Flipkens can effectively construct points on grass.

This is reflected in the former Wimbledon semifinalist's 63% career-winning percentage on the grass. However, at 36 years old, Flipkens is not playing with nearly the speed nor precision as she once did.

Tikhonova was slow and inconsistent against Flipkens, yet she still snagged a set. While Flipkens has had a good grass-court career, her slices don't do as much damage nowadays and she's more erratic from the baseline.

Li kept the ball consistently deep in the court and went for winners when she had an opening against Samsonova.

Her ability to keep points going on grass will force an increasingly-erratic Flipkens to overhit and she will be able to force Flipkens to defend more than she did against the Russian.

Pick: Li -3.5 games (-118 via PointsBet)

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Elise Mertens (-130) vs. Alison Van Uytvanck (+112)

4 a.m. ET

Elise Mertens had to come from behind in the first round of 's-Hertogenbosch. Mertens defeated Storm Sanders 6-7(5), 6-1, 6-2.

Mertens' return was excellent against Sanders, winning 53% of her return points and breaking serve six times. Mertens won an impressive 77% of her own first serves. However, the Belgian's second serve was shaky, winning just 14-of-33 second-serve points.

She is 27-21 on grass in her career and reached the round of 16 at Wimbledon in 2019. Mertens is consistent from both wings and will not give the match away to her opponents. With that said, Mertens has looked underpowered on court at times as of late, which is not a recipe for success on grass.

Alison Van Uytvanck is now on a six-match winning streak, all on grass, with her first-round victory in 's-Hertogenbosch. Van Uytvanck beat Tamara Korpatsch 6-4, 7-5.

She did a fairly good job of protecting her own serve, as Van Uytvanck was only broken twice all match against Korpatsch. On return, she held Korpatsch to under 60% of her first serves won and broke serve four times.

With this straight-sets victory, Van Uytvanck has now won 10 sets in a row.

Van Uytvanck won the ITF $100k in Surbiton last week, defeating Arina Rodionova 7-6(3), 6-2 in the final. The Belgian has now won 60% of her professional matches on grass and made the round of 16 at Wimbledon (in 2018).

She has an excellent backhand slice, precise volleys and an attacking game style that forces opponents to hit through small openings on balls outside of their strike zones.

Mertens is playing much more passively than she has previously which is not good on grass, where taking the initiative is so important. However, if Mertens doesn't play with a purpose in this match, then Van Uytvanck will.

Van Uytvanck has played a lot more on grass recently than Mertens and is in good form. Van Uytvanck will attack short balls and pressure Mertens into hitting tough passing shots, consistently keeping the ball out of her strike zone.

Her desire to attack the net will also be huge, as Mertens will sometimes float balls back into play.

Pick: Van Uytvanck ML (+112 via FanDuel)

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