Among the ten new events announced for the 2016 WTA Tour, St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy will debut at Sibur Arena on the second week of February, as a replacement of the cancelled BNP Paribas Fortis Diamond Games in Antwerp. It will be the first WTA Tour event following the Australian Open, and it will take place simultaneously with WTA International event in Kaohsiung.
The tournament will replace the former ITF $50,000 Ladies Neva Cup, and it will belong to WTA Premier class, with a sum of $753,000 for prize money. Like the only other Russian tournament on the WTA Circuit, the Kremlin Cup, it will be played on indoor hard courts. Sibur Arena is also known to host ATP 250 St. Petersburg Open.
Bencic, Mirza and Hingis confirmed; Kasatkina to receive a Wild Card
Swiss rising star Belinda Bencic and doubles WTA Finals champions Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza are among the players who already confirmed their participation.
Russian home players Svetlana Kuznetsova and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, winner and runner-up respectively at the latest edition of Kremlin Cup, and two-times Grand Slam doubles champions Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina have signed up for the competition as well.
The organizers stated the intention to give a wild card to 18-year old Russian rising star Daria Kasatkina, who had been noticed this year after reaching U.S. Open third round as a lucky loser and for her run to the semifinals of Kremlin Cup, starting from qualifications.
Negotiatons ongoing with Williams and Sharapova
Having Maria Sharapova playing in the tournament is clearly within the goals of the organizers, but her participation is still in doubt, being subjected to Russian number one’s results in the Australian Open run. Other negotiations have been opened with top ranked Serena Williams and Grand Slam champions Ana Ivanovic and Petra Kvitova.
The tournament’s being held only a week after the Australian Open and the week before Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships may discourage some players to participate, as well as the Fed Cup quarterfinals in the first week of February. It is in the organizers' best interest, however, to gather as many top players as they could, to assure the tournament a remarkable debut.