After a thrilling Australian Open to start the year perfectly, where Serena Williams won her 23rd Grand Slam title after defeating sister Venus Williams in the final to create history in the record books, the tour would proceed to Asia and Europe, where there would be two tournaments to continue the season. The tournament in Asia would be the Taiwan Open which would be held in Taipei, having been played at Kaohsiung just last year. Coincidentally, the defending champion is Venus Williams, who would not be participating as she would be in Russia for the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy.
Who is playing?
Top seeds Elina Svitolina and Samantha Stosur, are both making their debut here in Taipei. The Ukrainian is looking for a good result here to continue her push for the top 10 in the rankings, and she missed the opportunity to do so after disappointingly losing to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the third round of the Australian Open.
Stosur received a late wildcard into the tournament just a few days ago as Carla Suarez Navarro was the original recipient of the wildcard, before withdrawing from the tournament last week to leave the space unfilled. The Australian will be looking to get her season off to a strong start here, having not won a match yet this year.
Other notable names in the draw are the 2016 US Open quarterfinalist Anastasija Sevastova, and former top 10 players Jelena Jankovic and Lucie Safarova. The Czech, who was hampered by health problems in recent years, fell outside of the world’s top 60 which would saw her unseeded in Taipei, but without a doubt she is definitely the player that no seeded players want to face regardless of her seed.
First Quarter:  Elina Svitolina
Top seed Elina Svitolina headlines this quarter, and faces a very tricky opponent in Evgeniya Rodina for her opening match. If she gets past the opening round, she would most likely face fellow countrywoman Kateryna Kozlova, who will face a qualifier or a lucky loser in her first match. Then, it would be a potential meeting with Shelby Rogers, who might pose some problems for the Ukrainian having just met in Brisbane during the first week of the year, with Svitolina closing the tight match out in three sets.
Quarterfinal Prediction:  Elina Svitolina d.  Shelby Rogers
Second Quarter:  Caroline Garcia
The highest seed in this quarter would be Caroline Garcia, who would have a pretty easy opponent in the first round as she was drawn to face a qualifier or lucky loser. It just gets tougher for the Frenchwoman after that, as a difficult opponent in either Mandy Minella or Jana Cepelova awaits in the second round, with Minella having a 2-0 lead in her head-to-head record with Garcia. The other seed in this quarter is the the former world number one Jelena Jankovic, who faces a tough task in the first round as the always-dangerous Kurumi Nara is waiting for her there.
Quarterfinal Prediction:  Jelena Jankovic d.  Caroline Garcia
Third Quarter:  Anastasija Sevastova
Although she is the highest ranked player in this quarter, Sevastova will not be happy with her draw as a potential meeting with 2015 French Open finalist Lucie Safarova looms ahead. Sixth seed Misaki Doi open ups against her compatriot Nao Hibino, before meeting either former top 20 player Sorana Cirstea or another Japanese in Risa Ozaki. With both Safarova and Cirstea present in this quarter, the seeds will not be pleased with their draws.
Quarterfinal Prediction: [WC] Lucie Safarova d. Sorana Cirstea
Fourth Quarter:  Samantha Stosur
Second seed Samantha Stosur will also face a very tough draw in the packed field of Taipei, having to face the dangerous Danka Kovinic in the first round. The path does not get easier for the Australian as she could potentially face former world number five Francesca Schiavone, a rematch of the 2010 French Open final where the Italian triumphed, in the second round. The other seed is Katerina Siniakova, the Shenzhen Open champion who already earned wins over Simona Halep (Recap their match here) and Johanna Konta (Recap their match here) this year. She faces a resurgent player in Galina Voskoboeva, who recently returned from a lengthy injury lay-off. Should she get past the Kazakhstani, she would face a Chinese player in either Zheng Saisai or Peng Shuai, with both players being especially dangerous and tricky.