Zheng Saisai receives a wildcard into the WTA Elite Trophy
Zheng Saisai will have the home crowd behind her in Zhuhai | Photo: Lintao Zhang

The sole wildcard of the WTA Elite Trophy has been surprisingly awarded to second-ranked Chinese player Zheng Saisai, who had an impressive year after reaching a new career-high ranking and lifting the biggest title in her career. She overcame a horrifying start to 2019 as she gained momentum midway through the season after Wimbledon, excelling on the hard courts as she labelled herself as one of the most dangerous unseeded floaters in the draws currently.

Zheng was chosen ahead of top-ranked local player Wang Qiang, who is the US Open quarterfinalist and the defending finalist in Zhuhai. She lifted the WTA 125k title on clay in Anning and struggled through a five-match losing streak which spanned from clay to grass.

Zheng Saisai with her San Jose title | Photo: Robert Reiners
Zheng Saisai with her San Jose title | Photo: Robert Reiners

The Chinese snapped her losing streak in the best possible manner — being crowned as the surprise champion at the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic, where she won her first-ever WTA title, coming at the Premier level. She defeated four consecutive higher-ranked players en route to her maiden title and roared back into the top-40 as a result.

Strong performances during the Asian swing included a stunning upset over Sloane Stephens, allowing her to rise to a new career-high ranking of 36. An opponent never to be underestimated, Zheng will look to challenge the top players in Zhuhai and bring the home fans something to cheer for.