WTA 2018 China Open Draw: Preview & Analysis
Oct 3 6 min read10:46 am
Maria Sharapova on Flickr by Tim Wang under CC2.0
The 2018 China Open will mark a decade of the event being categorized as a Premier Mandatory event on the WTA circuit. The tournament is the final Premier Mandatory event of the year and offers a stunning prize money of over $6,000,000. Held in Beijing, the event will see each of the Top 15 ranked women feature in the 64-player draw. World No.1 Simona Halep is the top seed for the event whereas defending champion Caroline Garcia is seeded fourth. In a fierce competition, the players will look forward to grab the 1000 points that it has to offer to its victor. Here is how the ladies line-up for China's biggest women’s tournament:
First Quarter: Halep, Kvitova, Stephens, Keys, Sevastova
Last year's runner-up Simona Halep will face qualifier Ons Jabeur in her first round match. The top seed is currently on a three-match losing streak and is struggling physically on court. Considering Halep's form, Jabeur’s powerful game could be threat for another early exit for the Romanian. The winner will face Maria Sakkari or Donna Vekic in the next round. This will be the fifth meeting between Vekic and Sakkari and their rivalry is currently tied at two wins apiece. Earlier this year, Sakkari defeated Vekic in straight sets at Indian Wells. 2018 US Open semi-finalist Anastasija Sevastova has been plotting her way up the rankings steadily. The Latvian makes her fourth appearance at Beijing and will face Alize Cornet in the opening round. Cornet will be appearing for the ninth time at Beijing but is yet to progress beyond the Round of 16 in this event. The winner will face Madison Keys or her compatriot and lucky loser Bernarda Pera in the second round.
Ninth seed Sloane Stephens faces Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova for the second time in her career. The first meeting was won by Stephens in straight sets at the 2015 Washington final. The winner will face either Dayana Yastremska or Saisai Zheng. Last year's quarter-finalist Dominika Cibulkova will face wildcard entrant Ying-Ying Duan in the opening round. The winner will play Petra Kvitova or Daria Gavrilova in the second round. Kvitova was the runner-up at Beijing in 2014 and has been a semi-finalist on two other occasions. The Czech has a 2-2 head to head record over Gavrilova, who could be a tricky customer in the first round. Kvitova's probable opponents are likely to be Cibulkova and Stephens in the subsequent rounds. The Czech leads Cibulkova 5-2 but has lost both her matches against Sloane Stephens.
Probable quarter-finals: Sevastova vs Stephens
Second Quarter: Kerber, Osaka, Mertens, Goerges, Zhang
Angelique Kerber and Kristina Mladenovic lock horns for the fifth time in their career when they meet in the first round at Beijing. Mladenovic trails Kerber 1-4 but the Frenchwoman won their last meeting at Stuttgart. Seeded third, Kerber has reached the quarter-finals of the China Open in three of her eight appearances. The winner will face Yulia Putintseva or Carla Suarez Navarro in the next round. Fifteenth seed Elise Mertens makes her second appearance at Beijing after a disappointing second round exit last year. She will face home favourite Shuai Zhang in the first round. The winner will face Su-Wei Hsieh or Timea Babos in the next round.
Tenth seed Julia Goerges faces 2016 runner-up Johanna Konta in the first round. The winner will face Lesia Tsurenko or 2011 runner-up Andrea Petkovic in the next round. Danielle Collins will face Timea Bacsinszky for a spot in the second round. The winner will face Zarina Diyas or Naomi Osaka in the next round. 2018 US Open Champion Osaka has been at her peak form in the past two months. The Japanese No.1 should not face any obstacles with that form and is likely to breeze into the quarter-finals to face her first difficult opponent, which is likely to be Angelique Kerber.
Probable quarter-finals: Kerber vs Osaka
Third Quarter: Garcia, Pliskova, Muguruza, Ostapenko, Sasnovich
Former World No.1 and seventh seed Karolina Pliskova will make her fifth main draw appearance at Beijing. The Czech is yet to get past the Round of 16 at the China Open. She will face wildcard entrant and 2015 semi-finalist Sam Stosur in the first round. The winner will face Aliaksandra Sasnovich or Mihaela Buzarnescu in the next round. While Sasnovich makes her second main draw appearance at Beijing, it will be a maiden appearance of Buzarnescu. Garbine Muguruza and Ekaterina Makarova will face each other for the sixth time in their career, with the Spaniard leading the head to head 3-2. Muguruza won the event in 2015 but her form in the second half of 2018 has been extremely vulnerable. The Spaniard's opponent is Ekaterina Makarova, who makes her eighth appearance at Beijing but has only once been able to reach the Round of 16. The winner will face Aryna Sabalenka who receives a bye into the second round. Sabalenka has been creating tremors across the circuit, registering seven wins over Top 10 players in 2018.
Twelfth seed Jelena Ostapenko will face Magdalena Rybarikova in the first round. The winner will face Qiang Wang who gets a bye into the second round. Qualifier Polona Hercog will face Coco Vandeweghe in the first round. Vandeweghe is currently on an eight-match losing streak. Defending champion Caroline Garcia will face wildcard Yafan Wang in the first round. She is likely to face Hercog, Sabalenka and Pliskova in the subsequent rounds.
Probable quarter-finals: Pliskova vs Sabalenka
Fourth quarter: Wozniacki, Svitolina, Bertens, Kasatkina, Strycova
2010 Beijing Open champion Caroline Wozniacki will face Belinda Bencic in the first round. In the past three editions, the Dane has lost in the Round of 16. Since winning the title at Eastbourne earlier this year, the second seed has failed to win back-to-back matches in the six tournaments she has entered. The winner will face Petra Martic or Barbora Strycova in the next round. Sixth seed Elina Svitolina was defeated in the Round of 16 last year at Beijing and is back to make her second appearance at the event. The Ukrainian will face Aleksandra Krunic in the first round against whom she enjoys a 2-0 head to head record against. A third win over Krunic will draw her against Katerina Siniakova or Alison Van Uytvanck.
Kirsten Flipkens takes on British qualifier Katie Boulter in the first round. The winner will face Sorana Cirstea or Kiki Bertens in the next round. Cirstea has entered the tournament as a lucky loser but 11th seed Bertens has lost on all four previous occasions where she faced the Romanian. Daria Kasatkina plays Laura Siegemund, with the winner to face Anett Kontaveit in the second round. Kasatkina has won both her previous matches against Siegemund but trails Kontaveit 0-1.
Probable quarter-finals: Bertens vs Kontaveit