WTA 2018 Tianjin Open Draw: Preview & Analysis
Oct 10 4 min read5:32 am
Katie Boulter on Flickr by JC under CC2.0
The Tianjin Open is a WTA International level tournament and is one of the six biggest tennis tournaments played in China. Celebrating its fifth anniversary, the 2018 tournament will see World No.7 Karolina Pliskova enter the tournament as the top seed. Defending champion Maria Sharapova prematurely ended her 2018 season leaving Aryna Sabalenka (2017 runner-up) as the player with the highest points to defend this year at Tianjin. While the top half of the draw sees players from 13 different nationalities, a total of seven Chinese players are featured in the bottom half of the draw at Tianjin this year. Here is how the players are drawn against each other:
Top Half: Pliskova, Sabalenka, Collins, Sakkari
2015 semi-finalist Karolina Pliskova makes her second appearance at Tianjin and is the top seed for the event. Pliskova took a wildcard into the event after undesired results at Wuhan and Beijing. The Czech lost in the second round at Wuhan and crashed out in the third round at Beijing. Pliskova won the titles at Tokyo and Stuttgart this year and will now face Varvara Lepchenko in the first round at Tianjin. Pliskova leads Lepchenko 2-0 in head to head record. The winner will face Lara Arruabarrena or Polona Hercog in the second round. 2018 Tashkent semi-finalist Kateryna Kozlova will face qualifier Barbora Krejcikova in the first round. The winner will face British No.3 Katie Boulter or eighth seed Maria Sakkari in the second round. Sakkari is likely to face top seed Karolina Pliskova in the quarter-finals, and if that matchup eventuate, she’ll be confident of causing an upset after winning their lone meeting at Rome earlier this year.
For the second time in as many months Aryna Sabalenka will face Sofia Kenin on the Asian Swing. Sabalenka finished runner-up last year and looks sharp enough to recreate her run to the Tianjin final this year as well. The World No.11 won her second title of the year at Wuhan, defeating Kenin en route to the title. World No.84 Magda Linette will face World No.85 Elena Rodina in the first round at Tianjin. Linette defeated Rodina earlier this year at Bogota in their lone meeting. The winner will face fourth seeded Sabalenka or Kenin in the second round. For the second consecutive week Timea Bacsinszky will face Danielle Collins. Collins defeated the Swiss last week at Beijing and will look forward to inflict a second win as the seventh seed in Tianjin. The winner will face Yulia Putintseva or qualifier Misaki Doi in the next round.
Probable semi-finals: Pliskova vs Sabalenka
Bottom Half: Garcia, Hsieh, Mertens, Martic
Caroline Garcia is 3-3 on the Asian swing this year and failed to defend her Wuhan title. The Frenchwoman makes her maiden appearance at Tianjin and will face qualifier Fang Ying Xun in the first round. Irina Camelia Begu will face Chinese qualifier Yuxuan Zhang in the first round and is likely to set up a sixth career meeting against Garcia in the second round. Wildcard entrant Yue Yuan and Fangzhou Liu will face each other in the first round. The winner is likely to face sixth seed Petra Martic in the next round who will take on Ying-Ying Duan in her opening round match.
Third seed Elise Mertens is yet to record a win in Asia since losing in the fourth round at US Open. The Belgian makes her debut at Tianjin and will face Lin Zhu in the first round. The winner will face qualifier Jana Cepelova or Chinese player Yafan Wang in the second round. 2018 Hiroshima Champion and Seoul semi-finalist Su-Wei Hsieh is seeded fifth at Tianjin this year. Hsieh lost in the opening rounds at Beijing and Wuhan and will now face Ajla Tomljanovic in the first round. Hsieh lost to Tomljanovic last month at Seoul in the semi-finals and the duo are tied at 1-1 in the head to head record. Hsieh makes her third appearance at Tianjin and her best result came in 2015 when she managed to reach the quarter-finals. The winner will face Alison Riske or qualifier Veronika Kudermetova in the second round. Riske won the inaugural Tianjin Open in 2014, reached the final in 2016 but lost in the first round last year against Yafan Wang.