After the last decade of WTA tennis ended in Shenzhen, a new decade of tennis will begin in Shenzhen. Fans will catch first glimpse of 2020 WTA main draw action at the Shenzhen Open as action will begin on Sunday due to a Saturday final. Top 10 player Belinda Bencic will be making her debut while there will be a bunch of home favourites looking to live up to expectations in their territory.
First Quarter: Bencic handed potential Muguruza clash
Belinda Bencic ended her year in Shenzhen when she reached the semifinals at the WTA Finals and will look to continue her good run by carrying her momentum into the International-level tournament. Making her debut in this event, she opens her campaign against Anna Blinkova while the thunderous groundstrokes of Duan Yingying could provide some challenge in the second round.
On the other hand, drawn into the same quarter is sixth seed Garbine Muguruza but her task does not get easier. The Spaniard, hoping for a resurgent 2020, opens against one of the game’s biggest rising star Wang Xinyu, who challenged Maria Sharapova at this tournament last year. With Conchita Martinez returning to her team, Muguruza should be a player to keep a lookout for.
Prediction: Bencic d. Muguruza
Second Quarter: Chinese players look to dominate
Fourth seed Wang Qiang owns a negative record in this tournament but faces a tricky opponent to start her new season. Ons Jabeur is likely to provide a stern challenge, although the toughest test could come in the quarterfinals.
Fifth seed Ekaterina Alexandrova, champion of a WTA 125k event a couple of weeks ago, faces 2017 champion Katerina Siniakova in an intriguing opener. Peng Shuai, former top-15 player and back from a career-threatening injury, would be a tough nut to crack in the second round no matter her ranking.
Prediction: Alexandrova d. Wang
Third Quarter: Mertens and Rybakina set for first meeting
This is the only quarter not to be filled with any qualifiers, with third seed Elise Mertens headlining this part of the draw. She starts her year against Lesia Tsurenko, finalist of the previous Brisbane International. Rising star Wang Xiyu received a wildcard into the main draw and could face Mertens with a win over Sorana Cirstea.
Seventh seed Elena Rybakina will be making her debut in Shenzhen, going up against home favourite Zheng Saisai in the first round. It will be a gruelling encounter but the Kazakh will be favouring her chances to reach the last eight.
Prediction: Mertens d. Rybakina
Fourth Quarter: Defending champion Sabalenka back on track
Defending champion Aryna Sabalenka is the second seed this year and could face Kristyna Pliskova in a hard-hitting battle in the second round. Her biggest challenge might come in the quarterfinals with home favourite Zhang Shuai looming.
Back from her second pregnancy, Kateryna Bondarenko will be playing the fourth WTA event of her comeback with a protected ranking. She will be facing Misaki Doi in the first round, owning a 1-3 record in singles matches during her comeback.