WTA Shenzhen: Simona Halep, Jelena Ostapenko and Maria Sharapova headline entry list

Several star players opted to start their 2018 season at the Shenzhen Open as world number one Simona Halep will be joined by the likes of Roland Garros champion Jelena Ostapenko and five-time Major champion Maria Sharapova.

WTA Shenzhen: Simona Halep, Jelena Ostapenko and Maria Sharapova headline entry list
Halep, Ostapenko, Sharapova and Zhang are the main attraction to the Shenzhen Open | Photos: Getty Images, Graphics: Don Han

The Shenzhen Open, which has been one of the relatively popular tournaments in the opening week of the tournament, will yet again welcome several big names in 2018. Defending champion Katerina Siniakova, who won her maiden WTA title at this site during this year’s edition, will be back to defend her title amongst the packed field. Furthermore, the two-time reigning runner-up Alison Riske will look to go one step further, having claimed a top-10 win in Shenzhen this year.

Star Power headlines the field

World number one Simona Halep is an active participant in Shenzhen, and she would be making her third appearance here after exiting in the second round this year. The Romanian is the first ever world number one to participate in this tournament and she looks to get her new year off to a great start with a deep run here.

Five-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova will make her first-ever appearance in this tournament, but she will be participating as an unseeded player. Without a doubt, the former world number one would be a player to avoid early in the draw especially with the Russian having nothing to lose since she has nothing to defend in the first quarter of 2018.

Maria Sharapova would have some nice memories in China, having won the Tianjin Open in October this year | Photo: Jimmie48 Tennis Photography
Maria Sharapova would have some nice memories in China, having won the Tianjin Open in October this year | Photo: Jimmie48 Tennis Photography
The final could see the fans being treated to a rematch of the 2017 Roland Garros final, with Jelena Ostapenko making her debut here in Shenzhen. The world number seven enjoyed her career-best year, claiming her maiden Major trophy while also cracking the top-10. In her first appearance in Shenzhen, Ostapenko would mount a serious title challenge as the second seed.

Hard-hitting Players provide tough challenge

There is a whole list of hard-hitting players in the entry list of the tournament, most notably the in-form Mihaela Buzarnescu. The 29-year-old Romanian cracked the top-100 for the first time in her career and is now edging closer than ever to a top-50 debut. She started 2017 as the world number 538, but some consistent performances allowed Buzarnescu to incredibly compete in Shenzhen as the eighth seed.

Former semifinalists Timea Babos and Camila Giorgi will be unseeded in the competition, but look to cause the seeds some trouble. Both players are known for their impressive aggressive play and would be a huge danger to the other players. Furthermore, Ekaterina Alexandrova will be making her debut in the main draw here, having never gone past the qualifying rounds.

Camila Giorgi serving at the Shenzhen Open earlier in the year | Photo: Zhong Zhi/Getty Images
Camila Giorgi serving at the Shenzhen Open earlier in the year | Photo: Zhong Zhi/Getty Images

Rising stars Maria Sakkari and Aryna Sabalenka had claimed some big wins in the past, with Caroline Wozniacki, Sloane Stephens, and Elena Vesnina being their victims this year. Both of them will be unseeded in Shenzhen, and the higher-ranked players would definitely not want to draw them early.

Two-time finalist Alison Riske would also be back, alongside Kristyna Pliskova, who lost a tight match against Johanna Konta in the quarterfinals during this year’s edition. Ons Jabeur, Tunisia’s pride, won her first WTA match in over two years in Shenzhen at the start of this year, and she would be returning to the place hoping to replicate her run once again.

Rest of the seeds

Rounding up the seeds are Irina-Camelia Begu and Katerina Siniakova, the defending champion. The Romanian returns to Shenzhen after two unsuccessful campaigns in the past, but as the fourth seed, she will look to improve on her best result. Siniakova reached new heights of her career at this site, hoisting her first-ever WTA title having defeated two top-10 players in the process.

Katerina Siniakova proudly posing alongside her 2017 Shenzhen Open title | Photo: Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
Katerina Siniakova proudly posing alongside her 2017 Shenzhen Open title | Photo: Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Home favorites look to make their marks

Zhang Shuai, who is slated to be the third seed, will look to produce a good run to kickstart her season. The Chinese have always produced impressive performances in front of her home crowd, and the world number 35 needs an excellent result here to secure a seed at the Australian Open.

Fifth seed Wang Qiang will be a threat to many players, and she has a good record in Shenzhen having reached the quarterfinals twice in the past. Duan Ying-Ying sneaks into the main draw as the world number 90, having fallen in the opening round in this year’s edition after wasting three match points against top seed Agnieszka Radwanska. The Pole did not return for the 2018 tournament.

Other players

Pauline Parmentier and Evgeniya Rodina will return to Shenzhen looking for a decent start to the year, after failing to win a match during their previous appearances. Magda Linette, Kateryna Kozlova, and Sara Sorribes Tormo are slated to make their debuts in this tournament.

Closing out the entry list is the Tokyo International champion Zarina Diyas, who had a successful comeback from an injury, and Monica Niculescu, whose unique playing style causes trouble to many players.

Monica Niculescu exited in the second round of this year's competition | Photo: Zhong Zhi/Getty Images
Monica Niculescu exited in the second round of this year's competition | Photo: Zhong Zhi/Getty Images