Mertens outclasses Tomljanovic to win Rabat title

(Reuters) - Belgian Elise Mertens extended her winning streak to 12 matches by beating Australian Ajla Tomljanovic 6-2 7-6(4) in the final of the Rabat Grand Prix in Morocco on Saturday.

The 22-year-old Mertens took control of the match from the start as Tomljanovic struggled to keep up with the fierce Belgian's creative and powerful onslaught of shots and was brushed aside in the first set.

Mertens's blazing form helped her to take a 5-3 lead in the second set before her 24-year-old opponent fought back to force a tie break.

The Belgian maintained her composure to comfortably seal her third title of the year after winning the Hobart and Lugano tournaments.

Tomljanovic's cause was undone as she racked up 46 unforced errors in an effort to find the lines against the in-form Mertens.

"I'm definitely not holding the trophy I wanted this week but there were a lot of little victories I'm very happy with," the Australian said after collecting her runners-up trophy. "It was my first time in Rabat but I definitely hope it's not the last."

Mertens's winning run has helped her rise to a career-high ranking of 16 ahead of her Madrid Open campaign, which kicks off on Sunday against compatriot Alison Van Uytvanck.

The 22-year-old's rise in the rankings could also boost her chances of being seeded at the French Open this month.

(Reporting by Aditi Prakash in Bengaluru; Editing by Clare Fallon)

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