The Shenzhen Open 2020 singles main draw ceremony was held live at the Shenzhen Longgang Sports Centre this afternoon and revealed the first hurdles the WTA stars will be facing in the new season.
Singles top seed Belinda Bencic was joined by Chinese ace Wang Qiang (No. 4 seed), fifth seed Ekaterina Alexandrova and sixth seeded former world No. 1 Garbine Muguruza in the top half of the draw.
The 22-year-old Swiss, currently just one spot shy of her No. 7 career high ranking, will start her campaign with a first-time encounter against Russia’s 21-year-old Anna Blinkova.
World No. 30 Wang will face Ons Jabuer in the first round, having defeated the Tunisian in their only previous meeting on the hard courts of Dubai in 2017.
Russia’s Alexandrova will have to get past 2017 Shenzhen Open singles champ Katerina Siniakova in her opening match that will be played tomorrow on Court 1.
Meanwhile, two-time Grand Slam winner and current world No. 36 Muguruza drew 18-year-old local wild card Wang Xinyu in the first round.
In the bottom half of the draw, defending champion and number two seed Aryna Sabalenka is accompanied by doubles partner Elise Mertens (the third seed), seventh seeded exciting rising star Elena Rybakina as well as eighth seed Zhang Shuai.
World No. 11 Sabalenka is up against a qualifier in her first round match, while world No. 17 Mertens will need to overcome Lesia Tsurenko in tomorrow’s first match on Centre Court starting at noon. The Belgian has a 0-1 record against the Ukrainian, having lost to the then higher ranked Tsurenko at ‘s-Hertogenbosch in 2017.
Twenty-year-old Kazakh-Russian Rybakina, who had a breakout season in 2019 in which she made her first two career finals and picked up her maiden title at the Bucharest Open, will take on Zheng Saisai for the first time on tour in her opening match.
Meanwhile, the number eight seed Zhang Shuai faces Magda Linette on Centre Court in only other first round match to feature a seeded player tomorrow. The Chinese has never lost to the Pole and possesses a 4-0 record in head-to-head encounters from 2014 to 2018.
The other two Chinese wild cards in the main draw – Duan Yingying and Wang Xiyu – drew Kazhakstan’s Zarina Diyas and Romania’s Sorana Cirstea in their respective first round matches.
Last year’s semifinalist Wang Yafan was present at the draw ceremony and drew herself a tricky tie against Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo in tomorrow’s last match on Court 1. Wang has previously lost twice to the Spaniard on tour, the last coming at the Croatia Bol Open in 2018.
“With this being the first tournament of the season, anything can happen and everybody will be giving it a go. I will also give it my best here,” said the 25-year-old world No. 48, who reached her career high of No. 47 last October after a semifinal run in Korea.
The 2020 Shenzhen Open doubles draw, which was also announced today, features one of the most exciting fields in the tournament’s history, with three players that picked up Grand Slam titles in 2019 and four Top 10 players.
U.S. Open champs Sabalenka (world No. 5) and Mertens (world No. 6) are the top seeds here in Shenzhen and will commence their campaign against the Ukraine-Belgium combo of Kateryna Bondarenko and Lidziya Marozava.
The second seeded in-form Czech duo of Siniakova (world No. 7) and Barbora Krejcikova, who together won two titles last year at Toronto and Linz while also making the last four at Wimbledon, have drawn the German-Russian pair of Anna-Lena Friedsam and Margarita Gasparyan in the first round.
Roland Garros finalists and US Open quarterfinalists Duan Yingying and Zheng Saisai are seeded third in the doubles and kick off their campaign against German-Swiss combo Tatjana Maria and Stefanie Voegele.
Doubles defending champ Peng Shuai is back to defend the title she picked up last year (w/ Yang Zhaoxuan) but the former world No.1 will be teaming up with 2019 Australian Open doubles champ and current world No. 10 Zhang Shuai this year. The duo, who only partnered up twice last season but managed to notch an impressive run to the finals at Nanchang, will face local wild card pairing Jiang Xinyu and Tang Qianhui in the first round.
In qualifying matches played today, Anna-Lena Friedsam, Timea Babos, Barbora Krejcikova, Varvara Gracheva, Nicole Gibbs, Jasmine Paolini, Margarita Gasparyan and Irina-Camelia Begu all notched wins to move into tomorrow’s final round.
The Shenzhen Open is organized by the Chinese Tennis Association, Culture, Radio, Television, Tourism and Sports Bureau of Shenzhen Municipality, IMG and CCTV-IMG Sports Management Company and is co-organized by the Bureau of Longgang District Culture, Radio, Television, Tourism and Sports Bureau, Shenzhen Gemdale Sports Industry Co. Ltd. and Kaisa Culture & Sports.