Elise Mertens comes to the 2021 Mutua Madrid Open as one of the best players on the WTA Tour. In her Caja Mágica opener, the world No. 16 defeated Chinese player Shuai Zhang 6-3, 6-3 to seal her passage to the second round of the Madrid tournament. The Belgian player was very happy with her great season and to be playing well in the Spanish capital. “I’m going to give it my all. I’m focusing on my opponent for the next round and that will keep me focused so I can progress”. Despite the fact that conditions at the tournament will be somewhat different to previous editions of the tournament, Mertens admitted that she is “very happy to be here after two years away”.
Having won the WTA 500 in Gippsland, the Belgian started her clay swing a few weeks ago on the courts of South Carolina: “I didn’t have my best week in Charleston, so I made the most of the opportunity to play in Istanbul and gain some confidence and win a few matches”. The 13th seed at the Madrid WTA 1000 arrives in the Caja Mágica after reaching the final of the WTA 250 in Istanbul, a tournament the Belgian player treated as “preparation for Madrid”. Now, having played a match at her third tournament in the clay swing, Mertens recognises that she feels “more comfortable on the surface after recent weeks”.
The Belgian player wanted to arrive in the Spanish capital well prepared to play in the best conditions possible at what she considers “a very good tournament”. In the words of Mertens, “Madrid is one of the tournaments that definitely counts in the ranking, it’s a WTA 1000 so it’s very important”. The No. 16 in the WTA ranking was also keen to mention the organisation of the Mutua Madrid Open: “Although COVID is still there, the tournament is working very hard to keep everyone protected and safe”. Both the players and the fans.
“Just being able to play here and having some spectators in is very positive”, said Mertens. Finally, the courts in the Caja Mágica will be at 40% capacity, which is great news for players and fans alike: “With a full stadium or people in the stands, rather than an empty stadium, the atmosphere is very different”. The Belgian player has already experienced the return of spectators in Miami and Australia, and she is very happy to see them back. “It’s really wonderful that people can watch tennis, but it’s also good for the tennis players to be able to listen to someone applauding them and cheering them on”, concluded Mertens.